AMAZING ALBUM -- WITH A CAVEAT
Ross Childress is the former lead guitarist for Collective Soul. I won't say that the band is nothing without him, but listen to this album and you'll hear how much he added to the mix. (Presuming, of course, you've been listening to Collective Soul since the breakup; and presuming that you, like me, are of the opinion that they sound weak and attenuated and insipid -- like uncaffeinated coffee.)
Buy this album and prepare to have your musical socks blown off. Ross Childress's songs are ear-crack. I haven't stopped looping this album since I bought it. The songs have gone so deep into my brain it feels like they've formed a kind of musical synaptic network. They're beautiful and sad and heartfelt and (nearly) holy, the songs. That may sound a mite overblown, but I dare you to feel differently after listening to this album non-stop for nearly 2 days. Great, great music.
One caveat -- and it's the reason I gave this album 4 stars instead of 5 -- the lyrics are bad. I'm talking "Break Dancin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" bad. Bad, bad, bad. No good, horrible, terrible, very bad lyrics. The songs' lyrics are as bad as the guitar work is good. Which is really saying something. And it's not like Ed Roland (of Collective Soul fame) writes better lyrics; he just has the good sense not to enunciate his sh***y lyrics when singing. Roland, in other words, finds the wisdom in simply singing his sh***y lyrics' vowel sounds. At any rate, Childress's musical gifts are mighty and great, but he is lyrically stunted.
But see: even with the unfortunate, mongoloid lyrics, this album still warrants a solid 4 stars. I hope this album allows Ross Childress to find a good lyricist. Childress could rule the musical world. Love, love, love these songs.
The Soul of the Collective
There's a great chance that many buying this record are fans of Ross and his work with CS. With that, there's no disappointment. The only true taste of Mr. Childress as a songwriter with CS was Dandy Life from Dosage; the production heavy, singles-laden1999 release of the band. This album expands on that songwriting side with some pretty electric tracks that vary in scope and style from the jumpy opener of Thank You and My Shirley to the Teena Marie/Prince inspired funk of Layla Leonia; quite the surprise coming from a metal riffing master.
I don't think the lyrics are as juvenile as the previous reviewer stated; to correlate them to Breakin' 2 is a tall order more in line with The Black Eyed Peas repetitive, uninspired club rants about living the good life. I remember listening to Joe Satriani's Flying In A Blue Dream on the heels of the incendiary "Surfing With the Alien" and wondering why Satch decided to add his singing and simpleton lyrics to his superhuman guitar work. I'm still scratching my head. Not so with Childress. Those statements, in all due respect to one's own opinion are way overblown. Many better examples of bad lyrics abound.
I don't have to convince anyone to buy this record, the samples and foreknowledge of this artist will have you clicking the Buy Album button already.
Not my cup of tea!
Huge fan of Ross Childress!!! I grew up on Collective Soul and was very disappointed when Ross parted from the band. If you are a fan of all styles of music and can look past Ross being the former guitarist for Collective Soul, you may be able to enjoy this album. Me, personnally, I don't relate to the music or the lyrics. Vocals are very monotone and just kind of boring to listen to. Music does not sound fresh and sounds like it was written around guitar. I was hoping with this being a Ross Childress album it would differ from his Starfish and Coffee album, but they are very similar. And it's more pop than rock. Sorry Ross, I have spent $8 on bands that I have never heard of and got more enjoyment. I tried so hard to like both albums, so I could give you support and feel like I got my moneys worth.
I don't want to discourage anyone from buying. More so, just be aware that there is in no comparison with music or lyrics to his days with Collective Soul. And maybe, that's what Ross is going for.
Big loss for Collective Soul and a bigger loss for Ross!