On a periodic table, CO3 represents carbon trioxide, one of the most explosive elements, while in Biblical pretenses it stands for the incredibly moving third chapter of Colossians, which is centered around a life of love, compassion and commitment to Christ. In a strictly musical sense, the duo comprised of vocalist/acoustic guitarist Chad Little and vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Dave Romero is indeed on fire, blending remarkably rich harmonies, a wide variety of southern fried genres, an intricate balance of acoustic and electric instrumentation, capped off by powerful production. When it comes to matters of the heart, it's obvious the group intends to make an impact, crafting lyrical masterpieces rippled with relevant tales of hope, encouragement, faith and flat out fun.
"I guess you could say our group name has a double meaning," verifies Little, letting out of a laugh. "We joke all the time that we're like carbon trioxide. We're really caustic and we'll blow up on you! But the meaning is still Scriptural as well, talking about a total dedication to a life in Christ where the songs say it louder than we could ever talk about."
Such is the case of the dozen cuts on Determined, a carefully crafted, continuously unified expression of the group's diverse palette flanked with faithful observations and several singles in the making. The title track opens up the listening experience, calling all to stand firm despite moments of rising waves and rocky waters, while soaring with robust harmonies and catchy choruses. Tunes like "He Speaks" and "Only For You" call for an even more introspective frame of mind, but again are linked by unbreakable melodic bonds and a unique chemistry rarely covered on either side of the music industry coin. "Dreamer" goes out to those who've ever wished for something, serving as a rally cry for all to follow through with those ambitions and navigate the reigns with God's will at the center. Yet it's "Be Still" that truly encompasses these artists' intentions, talking about waiting on the Lord and His ultimately perfect timing.
"We informally auditioned 'Be Still' for a major record label in their conference room and were told it was our career song," observes Romero. "We've heard so much feedback about the track and how it resonates with so many people. It was one of those very simple songs that came together in an incredible moment that's done really well for us ever since."
While that track and the others on Determined are obviously steeped in the Divine, members also cite the Creator as the source which drew them both together. Though Little and Romero had previously performed together in other outlets and in the infancy of CO3 (then called Chord of Three), the latest sessions show the twosome's most mature work yet, signaling their steadily developing artistic unity.
"Chad and I met six years ago in Oklahoma when I was a worship pastor at a church," Romero relates. "A mutual friend introduced us and we brought guitars over to each others houses and made an instant connection. Throughout the next few years, I expanded beyond worship and we started a group called Encounter, which helped lay the groundwork for what's now CO3."
In fact, the pair's relationship was so potent that they shot straight to the top, enlisting the legendary Rick Lloyd (previously known for his time with Third Day and others) at the production helm and setting up shop in TMC Studios just outside of Nashville
"We were really blessed by the experience and learned a lot by recording at such a top of the line studio," says Romero. "It really helped bring together our voices and influences in such a tight way that it allowed us to shape a sound of our own. We're in your face with the harmonies like the Gatlin Brothers, but with the edge of a Rascal Flatts or the Eagles. In the Christian market, it's a combination nobody else is really trying, while it gives us the ground work stylistically to hopefully have crossover appeal."
Regardless of the sonic make-up, the material is indeed in a class of its own, further refined on the road through an exhaustive show schedule. Speaking of time on tour, both players have been regulars on the concert circuit throughout their careers before coming together with Little spending a considerable amount of time in Carrie Underwood's band. That's right, Little was a band leader, writer and touring titan prior to her "American Idol" days and the international smash "Jesus Take the Wheel."
"It all started in 1997 when she just turned 14 and I was approached by her manager at the time to listen to her demos and consider putting together her band," he recalls. "I thought she was a little young, but had great pipes, so we decided to team up and rehearse every week together- once with just her and twice with the band. We started doing a lot of live dates and I wrote a song called 'Don't Talk About Love' that quickly became a concert favorite. Though I eventually had to start slowing down the schedule after I got married and had to let that go, we were totally rooting for her on 'Idol' and we are so proud that she won."
While the group is certainly ready to graduate to the next level, each guy's individual goal isn't to amass fame or fortune, but rather impact others with this highly inspirational and progressive project. "The dynamic for us is that we're continually on an evolutionary process," sums up Little. "We're always striving to be better as singers and songwriters and we pray our songs transcend charts, award categories and culture itself. I believe that, in itself, is the most spiritual thing we can do and we hope God will say 'well done.' We believe Jesus is the only way to God and our lyrics are about that in every song. We hope people hear our passion and that our observations transcend religion to hopefully help someone find relationship - right where they are, wherever that may be - with the One who transcends all."
- from http://www.co3music.com/
(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)
This is some new stuff I've been listening to and enjoying lately:
"Determined" is the title cut of a new CD by CO3, a duo made up of former Carrie Underwood sidemen Chad Little and Dave Romero. If Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney were singing Christian music, this is what it might sound like. The song is a gritty, lyrical, unashamed declaration of faith. I hate wimpy Christian songs that are really just love songs to a chick with her name crossed out and Jesus' name written in. But these guys sound genuinely sincere. "I'm not ashamed of Jesus," they shout. Bravo.