- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 19, 2001

OVER THE RHINE

Films for Radio

(EMD/Narada/Back Porch)

The pretentiousness of the title of this recording is a good indication of what´s inside: lots of dark, moody music with deep lyrics. It´s the perfect record to listen to if you´re too depressed to get out of bed.

The title promises an album with a cinematic scope, and it does deliver that.

The songs are richly textured; many are pretty. But they are overly long and don´t have much of a point. It makes for a long hour.

Just as the music feels a little too earnest, the lyrics, too, are overwrought and forced.

We get this: "I want to feel and then some/I have five senses/I need thousands more at least/Every day a page of paper/Every night a photograph/A moveable feast."

And this: "The night sky is an ocean/Black distant sea/Washing up to my window."

The low point is the horribly titled, "The Body Is a Stairway of Skin." This is a horrible song, which strives for some kind of Eastern mysticism sound but fails.

Still, some of the musical themes on this record are worth listening to. The opening cut, "The World Can Wait," is full of haunting chord changes and, with "If Nothing Else," "Fairpoint Diary" and "I Radio Heaven," is one of the high points, lush and melodic, with interesting instrumentation. The album is well produced, and the musicians are skillful. Karen Bergquist´s singing is nice to listen to.

But in the end, Over the Rhine falls victim to its worst impulses. The band is great at creating a mood. The problem is that people in this sort of mood usually aren´t much fun to be around. Brian Sink

PETER CETERA

Another Perfect World

(DDE Records)

You can take Peter Cetera out of Chicago, but you can´t take Chicago´s influence out of the octet´s former frontman.

More than 15 years after Mr. Cetera left Chicago, "Another Perfect World" adeptly combines the group´s brassy jazz-pop arrangements with Mr. Cetera´s voice among the warmest, most sincere and easily recognizable in pop music on 10 tracks of mostly easy-listening love songs.

The disc´s opener and first single, the not-quite-title-track "Perfect World," is a sweet life-and-love-affirming ballad with crisp Chicagolike flourishes of horns.

Next up is the Beatlesque "Rain Love," on which rain appears to be a metaphor for a religious epiphany ("In time you´re gonna recognize/One drop will open up your eyes"). Then, two songs later, "Feels Like Rain" co-written with Karla Bonoff and my pick for second single takes a completely different tack, with loss of love likened to dark clouds hanging over one´s life. Willie Weeks´ lengthy bass riff at the end is an unexpected extra treat.

"Just Like Love" explores the joy and pain of love, while "I´m Coming Home" is Mr. Cetera´s take on absence making the heart grow fonder. The last of the best cuts is a respectful and respectable cover of John Lennon and Paul McCartney´s "It´s Only Love."

The final four tracks aren´t as strong as the first six, but only the closer, "Whatever Gets You Through (Your Life)," on which bad pop psychology makes for bad pop music, is a disappointment. Peter Parisi

CHRIS TOMLIN

The Noise We Make

(Sixstep/Sparrow Records)

Energetic and lively may be the best words to describe Chris Tomlin´s sophomore record, "The Noise We Make."

Starting with the first guitar riffs on the title track, the spirit carries through the record, even on the slower, more lyrically thoughtful tunes.

Most of the songs on this album are praise and worship choruses, easy to learn and easy to hum. Mr. Tomlin manages to keep the acoustic guitar sound fresh and compelling.

The 11-song album blends rock, pop, gospel and a little bit of country. Because of the mix of styles the songs each have a unique sound, avoiding the problem that many praise albums have of sounding the same from start to finish.

"Forever" merges a gospel choir sound with Mr. Tomlin´s own guitar playing. The lyrics are simple but meaningful about the enduring love of God.

On "The Wonderful Cross," Mr. Tomlin is joined by vocalist Matt Redman for a rendition of the 18th-century hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." The song blends the lyrics of the hymn with a new refrain, a fresh way to bring an old hymn to a younger audience. Bethany Warner


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