His Name Is Alive

Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth

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Over the years, His Name Is Alive's sound has spanned everything from musique concrète-tinged soundscapes to ethereal pop, gospel, and Hendrix-channeling guitar pyrotechnics. In a less-talented group, these stylistic shifts would seem unfocused, but with His Name Is Alive, constant change is their style. So it's not unusual that Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth is another departure, but it is a bit surprising that the group -- which features Warn Defever, Lovetta Pippen, and Flashpapr's Fred Thomas this time around -- picks one style and sticks to it for the whole album. It's still more surprising that the style is smooth urban ballads -- in a way, it's His Name Is Alive's most startling change since they lightened and brightened their music on Mouth by Mouth. However, it's not necessarily a step forward for the group; with their similar beats and tempos, songs like "One Year" and "Our Last Affair" are the musical equivalent of treading water. The album's best moments come near the beginning, when the concept of His Name Is Alive doing sleek urban pop like "Nothing Special" still seems fresh. The slinky, sexy "Happy Blues" and "Write My Name in the Groove" -- which sounds like a dreamy, distant cousin of TLC's "Waterfalls" -- also make the album momentarily convincing. But overall, it sounds too spare and restrained, especially when compared to artists like Aaliyah, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned TLC, whose work expands the boundaries of urban music in much the same way that His Name Is Alive redefines experimental pop. Someday My Blues... isn't a bad album: It showcases Pippen's remarkable voice and offers a bit of variety too with the smoky "Solitude" and "Karin's Blues." But compared to the rest of their work, it's His Name is Alive's least satisfying effort since Livonia; with any luck, their next experiment will be more successful.

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