The Promise

Plus One

143 / Atlantic Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Oh, great. Just what the world needed -- the contemporary Christian version of the Backstreet Boys.

I have to admit at the start of this review that I am not a lover of contemporary Christian music. I just find the majority of the music to be too preachy, or too cheerleader-like ("Yay, Jesus!") I once had a friend who went from agnostic to becoming a born-again Christian who always insisted on playing the latest stuff she got from the Christian bookstore for me. Damn near drove me nuts -- until she ended the friendship, claiming I was unhealthy for her. But she'd put stuff on, telling me, "This is the religious version of Nine Inch Nails." No offense, honey, but if I wanted to listen to Nine Inch Nails, I'd listen to the real thing, and not a photocopy.

Plus One is definitely one such band that my ex-friend would have tried to play their album The Promise for me at some point. Just like other boy bands, Plus One has it all, except for two things: they include God in many of their songs, and there's not as much vocal harmonies as I would have preferred to hear. But to their credit, they keep the prophetizing down pretty much, and have created an album that will blend well with the others in the genre. Unfortunately, it's not spectacular enough to make it stand out.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The quintet -- Jeremy Mhire, Jason Perry, Nate Cole, Gabe Combs and Nathan Walters- - do have decent sets of pipes. If only they utilized them more. I, for one, happen to like hearing harmony vocals; that's why bands like Backstreet Boys are palatable to me. But there's hardly any real harmonizing going on here. Mistake. Hearing a mush of vocals at times tends to distract from the overall picture, and I know this was not the band's intention. (I lent this CD to a co-worker of mine who is also a born-again - and her comments about the lack of harmonization echoed mine. Her words? "Their voices sound flat.")

And, while I'm doing everything I can to keep my biases out of the review and focus strictly on the music, parts of The Promise are a little too "yay, God" for me. Tracks like "God Is In This Place," "My Life" and the title track all focus on the importance of a relationship with God, no matter what you're doing in life. And while I give the band credit for keeping things toned down, it still got on my nerves.

Yet, there are moments on The Promise that suggest that Plus One could gain a pretty decent sized fan base. Tracks like "Written On My Heart," "I Will Rescue You" and "Here In My Heart" are the kind of songs that could easily work their way onto the radio and into the hearts of a gaggle of pre-teen girls yearning for the next pin-up kings. But they are indeed musically sound, and would not be out of place next to the latest cuts from groups like 'N Sync.

But Plus One is still very much growing into their shoes, and there are some potholes that will need to be smoothed out. Three words: "Last Flight Out". 'Nuff said.

The Promise could be seen as another disc in the already-crowded market of boy bands, or it could be seen as the religious or safe answer to some of the music on the radio. Or, you can look at it as the work of a group that has potential, but still needs a bit of seasoning. For a CCM Backstreet Boys clone, they were better than I could have anticipated. Just don't ask me to review the CCM version of Britney Spears.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 143 / Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.