Following their acclaimed performance on the second half of The Jesus Record, Rich Mullins' former backing unit, A Ragamuffin Band, had a tough task ahead of them -- a year of touring together convinced the group's members to carry on without their former leader and carve out an identity of their own. Given Mullins' immense talent as a songwriter and performer, that's no small feat, but it's one they pull off with Prayers of a Ragamuffin. The band confidently expands its sweet, polished folk-rock sound (Toad the Wet Sprocket might be the closest secular equivalent) to include grand spiritual anthems nearly worthy of U2, lushly orchestrated pop, and Springsteen-ish heartland rock & roll. The overall concept of the album is centered around prayer and its ability to lay the soul bare in all its flawed beauty, but the music itself is just as important in the album's cohesiveness -- it isn't only the tight instrumental work that makes A Ragamuffin Band feel like a rock-solid unit, but also the fact that each member contributes material. No one songwriting voice dominates, which gives the album a healthy variety and yet strengthens the impression that the band is of a similar mindset in the end. It may not be quite as poignant as The Jesus Record, but Prayers of a Ragamuffin is an impressive achievement in its own right.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Huey