Tait: Lose This Life
Genre: Christian Pop/Rock
By Steve Morley
(UMCom) -- Along with the other two-thirds of the pop trio dc Talk, vocalist Michael Tait has tasted a level of mainstream acceptance known to only a few names in contemporary Christian music. With his four-man side project, Tait, he opts not to depart significantly from the established hit formula that made dc Talk commercially viable on both sides of the Christian/secular line. It’s hard to argue with that kind of success, not to mention its front-line ministry potential to the non-believers or borderliners within earshot; Still, the crossover emphasis on Tait’s latest CD, Lose This Life, dilutes the disc’s impact as an cohesive artistic statement. The otherwise well-crafted 12-song package straddles adult-oriented rock, light pop balladry and alternative-flavored fare, creating the patchwork feel of commercially-driven music made by committee (indeed, most tracks feature at least 3 co-writers, while one, “Free Will,” involved the wills of no fewer than 6 participants). Although the pop and rock sub-genres represented here are not wildly incompatible, Tait’s choice for a bonus track—a lushly rendered cover of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”—oversteps the reasonable bounds of broad appeal.
The CD’s many strengths include superbly produced (if a tad too neatly groomed) sonic textures and tightly written, hooky choruses. The standout title cut suggests a less anthemic-sounding version of Irish rockers U2, while “Wait,” a 3-chord rocker that stakes a faith-based claim, comes the closest to full-throttle grunge. Throughout the disc, the song lyrics paint simple pictures but sidestep easy-answer clichés by dealing with real struggles. Tait’s songs explore various degrees of spiritual distance and reconnection in characters who are variously weary (“Fallen”), stuck (“Child”), rebellious (“Reconnecting”) and conflicted (“Free Will,” “God Can You Hear Me”).
When Michael Tait is singing in the first person, he delivers the record’s most challenging and potent messages. On the edgy rap-rock of “Numb,” he asks “are we moving in the motion of the crowd now/ slowly losing everything we were about now/ is it time to draw a line in the sand now/ and take a stand now/ are we numb?” The disc concludes quietly with the stock but heartfelt worship song “Holding Out For Grace.” Indeed, Lose This Life has enough worthwhile moments to qualify for grace from those who may not warm to all of its varied charms.
Steve Morley is a freelance music journalist living in College Grove, Tenn.