After the tepid reaction to the subdued, over-produced Secret Samadhi, Live took some time off to rethink their direction. For their fourth full-length studio album The Distance to Here, the band called on producer Jerry Harrison to recapture the raw energy and emotion that fueled Mental Jewelry and Throwing Copper. A self-conscious response to Secret Samadhi with plenty of guitar riffs, thunderous tempos and a mystical aura, The Distance to Here emerges from their last album's swirling, numbing stupor and regains some of Throwing Copper's aggressive intensity. But Live doesn't just meld their last two albums for this release; it's a livelier, lighter collection. Though the group is slowly evolving their sound -- Ed Kowalczyk's vulnerable-turned-angry vocals have become freer, more confident and more expressive, while Chad Taylor's background vocals add needed depth and harmony - they're retracing their steps before making any major changes. Live made its name by combining brutally honest, searching lyrics with equally intense and emotive music, but the fine line between genuine soul-searching and heavy-handed preaching is in the eye of the beholder. With The Distance, this line sways on individual songs: "Feel the Quiet River Rage," "Sparkle," "Meltdown," "Sun," and the title track -- reflect Live's evolution, but the lumbering "Face and Ghost (The Children's Song)" and the gushy "Dance With Me," aim too high for their own good. This doesn't make for a failed or bad album, just an uneven one. Overall, Live continues to plunge into dramatic, emotional, and spiritual realms, but the band needs to be more adventurous musically to complement its ongoing spiritual journey.
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AllMusic Review by Gina Boldman