Varied Styles, Consistent Message
Posted November 01, 2013
By MarkRyan_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Following on the heels of the mixtape released in 2012, Alex Faith is back with ATLast. The album brings together a stunning group of features, hard hitting beats, real life lyrics and a clear message of the redemptive power of faith in Christ.
The album opens with "ATFirst." A smooth piano intro leads to big drop, the bass hits hard and smooth. At first listen, Alex Faith's voice sounds very similar to Andy Mineo. Though the voice is similar, the style is different, so there is no misconstruing that he is trying to play off Mineo's fame.
"City of Nightmares" is about growing up in a rough city and juxtaposing that to Heaven and the future held in Christ. Alex's flow is incredibly smooth, and the addition of Tragic Hero on the track adds just the right touch of roughness. The song sounds like it could be from a horror movie, like something is sneaking up behind you.
The clear message of life in Christ continues with "Light Up." The song features the unique sound of Trip Lee which plays nicely off of Alex's smooth flow. The bass hits crazy hard in true dirty south style. The song is about being a light in this dark world, something as Christians we profess to do but at times fall short of how much light we could give off.
Collision Records labelmate Christon Gray features on three songs on this album. The first is "ATFirst", the second "Hold Me Down" and the third "ATLast." The album slows down with "Hold Me Down," but not in a negative way. The song speaks of a man asking his wife to stay close and support him. It is a heartfelt song; a place many couples get to as one is trying to start something new. In "ATLast," the verses walk through challenges of life in a rough neighborhood, to the challenges of life when our focus is on pursuits of worldly success. At last, the only thing left is Christ. Within these three track, Christon Gray proves once again why he is being featured on so many albums lately. His vocals add new depth to an already in-depth album.
As the album slows down with "Hold Me Down," it is followed by "Refuge (Interlude)." This is a spoken word piece by Odd Thomas from Humble Beast Records and Beautiful Eulogy. The piece is about the requirement for us to support people with more than empty words. It is an exhortation to the church that God's Word is our only refuge and comfort.
If three features with Christon Gray wasn't enough, J.R.'s distinctive vocals are featured on "Bloodlines." His ominous vocals draw us into the song while Alex delivers a message about about where we are from and where we are going: "My life will show them / Your words will free them / To see what, what I believe." We are born with a natural bloodline to our family, but once we are Christians we have a new bloodline with Jesus Christ.
I mentioned earlier how much Alex Faith sounds like Andy Mineo. On "Runaway" we get to really hear it. The vocal tone is similar, but styles are completely different. There is a smooth gospel flow to the song. They deliver a message about the choice that we have to either face our fears or run away from the plans God has for us. I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 that tells us "'ForI know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"
The next two tracks, "Pull Up" and "Never Giving Up," go off hard with features by Tedashii, Cory Paul and Social Club. The beats punch you in the chest and the message hits equally hard. This is a nice section to the album that then leads into the extremely thought-provoking "Refuge," which features Dre Murray and JGivens. This piano-driven track will make you sit back and pay attention. The third verse is by far the best verse on the entire album with innovative references to pop culture and incredibly smooth flow. The song would be best described as a cypher. There is no chorus or hook to speak of, just lyrical athleticism from the three artists.
I was thoroughly impressed by this album. It is varied in styles but consistent in message. It features so many of today's top Christian Hip Hop names, yet Alex's own style is not overshadowed. From hard hitting bass, to smooth gospel, to piano driven, thought provoking songs, this album is complete in every sense of the word. It may not get the press coverage of the other albums being released in the same week, but it is more than worth the price of admission.
Song to Download Now:
"Bloodlines (featuring J.R.)"
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