216. The Way Home – Russ Taff

THE WAY HOME (1989)

Russ Taff

Is there a better and more passionate male vocalist in the history of Christian music?

After several years in Southern Gospel ensembles and a career building tenure with the Imperials, Russ Taff took his throaty and earthy blue-eyed soul voice of gold into a solo realm and, for several years, created some of the finest albums in CCM. Three of those albums make the list here.

After two successful pop albums and a thematic and musical shift with a self-titled release, Taff released his fourth solo album to an overwhelming contingent of positive responses. Not as dark or rock driven as the previous release, The Way Home is more Americana and Springsteen influenced. Not “country,” but decidedly less “alternative” and more earthy. yet the Country market embraced the album charting three singles from the album.

Christian radio was not as embracing though a few songs did make a dent including the wonderful ballad, “Farther On.” The ballads on the album are incredibly strong with several written by Michael Anderson (who himself will appear later on this list). In fact, an Anderson penned tune remains my personal favorite on the album. “I Need You,” which appeared on Anderson’s A&M debut release is wonderfully redone here.

On several occasions Taff points toward a later release entitles “Under Their Influence” in which he covers several classic country and southern gospel classics. The songs included here reflect Taff’s heritage and respect for the legacy of amazing music left behind by some incredible artists.

The album closes with “Table in the Wilderness” that is simply a 4 minute masterpiece. It always felt to me that the song would have worked on a latter Alarm album with it’s anthem like qualities. A huge song with a great hook and Taff’s impressive vocals really carry it through.

This would be the last album that would make a major impact in the CCM market for Taff though he has continued to record and release album up to the present. He has also continued an on again off again relationship with the Gaither Vocal Band.

 

 

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  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    December 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Like you, I would probably place his self=titled album higher on this type of list simply because it was revelatory in it’s vulnerability and a huge musical step forward for Taff. However, THIS is the CD of his that continues to get played (although, partly because “Russ Taff” is one of the CD’s that somehow grew legs and walked away from my collection) with some regularity. It is the musical equivalent of a favorite warm sweater or comfy pair of shoes. Plus, you are spot on about “Table in the Wilderness”. That song is flat out majestic.

  2. Brian
    December 7, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Table In The Wilderness is masterful

    • Bill B
      February 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      I agree, Brian!

  3. Bill B
    February 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I have to say that this album and NOT ‘Medals’ is Russ Taff at his best. (Special consideration for Under Their Influence, as well.) One of the best vocalist no matter what genre.

  4. Greenchili
    March 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    “Table in the Wilderness” is one of those songs that depends on what type of mood I’m in. But if the 3rd Taff album you picked is the one I think it is. Then you’re choices match mine when it comes to his career. I need to slip Russ back into my rotation list since it’s been a while since I listened to him. But I think I’m gonna be pretty occupied digging up and listening to this list of albums you constructed.

  5. June 18, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Good album. It took some time to like it but now I think it is Russ Taff’s best album. He is a great and passionate vocalist – yes indeed.

  6. Greenchili
    December 7, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Just listened to this album recently all the way thru (I usually listen to my Taff playlist).. Really surprised at how much I enjoyed it and how well it holds together outside of my usual “mood” songs.

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