For Jeremy Camp's legions of contemporary Christian music fans, the release of Reckless, his first new studio album in five years, is an event. His last recorded efforts were the live We Cry Out: Worship Project, and a Christmas album entitled Christmas: God with Us. Reckless was produced and engineered by Andy Dodd, who also co-wrote the majority of the album's songs with Camp; the album was inspired by the apostle Paul's return to Lystra after being persecuted there, as detailed in the New Testament book of Acts. The lyrical content of these 11 songs may not recount that story, but they do reflect that view: that living in complete obedience to Divine will is indeed reckless -- not to mention worthy. Musically, this is the same meld of anthemic Christian rock and pop that has made Camp a household name. The production is ultra-compressed, with enormous guitars, tight drums, layers of keyboards, and samples for atmosphere, etc. It's not all that different from the production that is prevalent in contemporary country music. The weave of styles that meld the '80s and '90s rock -- from U2 to Creed -- that saturates CCM is, per usual, seamless. Highlights include "Shine," with its rumbling tom-toms backing Camp's vocal on the verse, the crackling ambient loops on "My God," the haunting neo-classical piano that gets countered with a dance beat on the title track, and the shimmering slowness that introduces "Reign in Me," with sparse cello and acoustic guitar textures. It's a prayer that comes off as one. Though it too reaches an anthemic climax, the song's sense of supplication doesn't dissipate. Set-closer "Without You," with its brittle loop and warm piano, is a ballad that recalls Casting Crowns stylistically. This is music that thrives on soaring choruses, tight hooks, gradual yet sweeping dynamic changes, etc. Its purpose is to stir emotion. Still, there is a question that registers a complaint: why are there no songs that express the truly human vulnerability in a life of faith that Camp so readily and beautifully expressed in his riveting autobiography I Still Believe in 2011? That aside, if you've found Camp's music compelling in the past, Reckless likely won't disappoint. Still, here's hoping that vulnerability comes into his music at some point.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek