354. The Blood – Kevin Max
THE BLOOD (2007)
TobyMac has gone on to create some of the most successful and popular music in CCM over the last decade. Michael Tait released two successful band projects and has recently taken over the lead vocal duties for on of CCM’s most popular acts, Newsboys. Kevin “Max” Smith has forged his own niche by going at things from the fringe and not taking part in the mainstream Christian Music industry.
After critically acclaimed but less than stellar sales results for his debut solo album, Kevin Max found himself without a record label. Always the more edgy, unique, original and recluse “Talker,” Max staked a claim to being the most creative, artistic and controversial of the DC Talk trio. He’s a poet, artists and singer-songwriter. But he has never been one to fit squarely into the round hole of Christian music.
All the while, though, he has created some amazing music on an independent basis. The album in question is rollicking, challenging, soothing and utterly enjoyable tribute to traditional forms of Gospel Music, both Black and Southern. To accomplish the teask of creative such a tremendous release it appears Max pulled in all his favors as the release is actually filled with a star-studded line-up, and that is no overstatement.
The album contains a reunion of DC Talk (The Cross), American Idol Chris Sligh (Run For a Long Time), Amy Grant and Vince Gill (Up Above My Head), Ashley Cleveland (The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power), Mary, Mary (People Get Ready) and Joanna Cash (One Way, One Blood). But this is no compilation project, though, as it is all Kevin Max and his Jeff Buckley, Bono and Bryan Duncan styled amazing vocals.
It is the vocals and the musical arrangements that make the album so compelling. There is an authentic and traditional feel to these classics, but with a real modern feel. It is not just a record of traditional Gospel covers, but rather a tribute to a musical style that so clearly influenced Max throughout his life. But also understanding that these traditional Gospel styles were the basis for modern rock music makes the more stylized arrangements so effective.