|LABEL: Vertical Records|
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): Former mainstream guitarist-for-hire grew up down the street from Jewel in rural Alaska and toured with Journey-man Steve Perry; secures his place as compelling praise songwriter on uplifting third album.
PRODUCER(S): Monroe Jones & Scott Williamson
Though he's been an "under-the-radar" kind of artist since 1999, Lincoln Brewster is closer to becoming a household name with his latest release, Amazed. The California-based worship leader has already gained significant approval from Third Day, who gave him a guest slot on the monumental "Offerings Tour." Now, radio programmers should lend support as Amazed offers enough exceptional praise-pop to pave the airwaves for months to come.
To those still missing the original Sonicflood line-up, Brewster is a strong substitute. Album opener "Let the Praises Ring" sounds huge via muscular harmonies and a firecracker guitar solo. The good times roll in a classic rock way on "Everybody Praise the Lord," a song that would delight Steven Curtis Chapman's heavier musical taste á la "I Do Believe" (Speechless).
Lincoln's softer side works just as well; the folksy arrangement of "Praises Be" and twinkling first single "All I Really Want" showcasing his gift for melody plus the in-demand strengths of award-nominated producer Monroe Jones. Much of Amazed is more direct modern worship, well done original anthems ("Glory to the King"), and festive cover versions ("King of Majesty") that fits today's Passion scene. As for lyrical theme--with four of ten songs having the word "praise" in their title--the always-popular message of hope and joy is daylight clear.
With stellar musicianship, sharp songwriting, and equal parts faith and fun, Amazed may not be amazingly innovative, but it's among the best studio efforts in its field so far this year.