Straight Ahead

Show Me the Way

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Giving this album less than the highest marks comes not from a dislike for the group or a failure to recognize its potential, but rather from a slight disappointment regarding how that potential was neglected. This pleasant folk-pop quartet stood ready to break out like fellow Utah State grads Colors, but instead stuck to traditional, lighter sounds. The comparison is inevitable, particularly on quick, whimsical tunes like "Set Me Free" and "Stand." The guys' harmonies wind smoothly through typical acoustic chord patterns and showcase impressive lyrical genius. That is the end of the two groups' likeness, however; Straight Ahead lacks the strength of the Logan trio's energy and hit songs. At least the second track -- "Jericho" -- is a standout hit; with a little tightening and shedding of interludes, it is poised to lead the foursome to the next level. From there, the CD reverts in and out of a Sabbath sound and makes you wonder if the band sticks to light folk simply because of its gospel topics. Straddling the line between pop and worship music has seen far too many casualties, particularly because so many albums are too contemporary for Sunday listening but remain too soft for the rest of the week. From the standpoint of craft, the group's song forms are obscured, causing some tunes to lose momentum precisely when set to elevate the listener to a new plane of emotion. Sometimes a chorus comes too early or not at all, hooking you the first time but inevitably leaving you wishing the band had stuck to traditional structures. Still, Straight Ahead leaves a succulent taste in your mouth and makes it easy to decide what CD to leave in your stereo for days on end. You're not likely to get all of the flavor the first time.

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