Talk - Supernatural
by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic
the release of their second album, Nu Thang in 1990, DC Talk
has continuously and consistently re-invented themselves with each
subsequent project. The threesome threw both fans and industry insiders
for a loop when "that Christian rap group" released Jesus Freak
in 1995 with nothing more than vestigial rap influences evident
on the recording.
Supernatural, perhaps the most anticipated Christian project
EVER, DC Talk again morphs into something new. Although not as drastic
a change as in 1995, the most significant point seems to scream
out at the seasoned DC Talk listener: There is no rapping on Supernatural.
group that once wrote and recorded "I Luv Rap Music," has left their
roots behind in order to move forward into even more undiscovered
territory. Indeed Supernatural, while along the same lines
as Jesus Freak, pushes the group's songwriting to new heights,
often surprising the listener with unexpected chords and instrumentalization.
Toby McKeehan, Kevin Max and Michael Tait have honed their harmonies
as well, often melding so smoothly that it seems as if they are
expending no effort whatsoever in performing their craft. The vocals
are laid down in layer after layer of intriguing arrangements and
many of the songs morph and blend into each other, making Supernatural,
the first project written by all three DC Talkers together, much
more of a concept album than any of their other projects.
the success of Jesus Freak, DC Talk seems to have discovered
their sound, musically. Supernatural is literally teeming
with raunchy guitars and lead guitar solos interweaving throughout
much of the project. There's no other way to put it: Supernatural
rocks! However, in the mix of these rockers, there are hints of
other influences as well.
a love song about how our spouses are sent by God, sounds like a
strange melding of Seal and Kool and the Gang. The
first general market single, "My Friend So Long," a humorous look
at artists who sell out their faith, sounds like it might be performed
by The Beach Boys on steroids and "Wanna Be Loved" is a funky,
soulful sixties groove that sounds like The Artist formerly known
as Prince singing a speeded up Stevie Wonder tune.
the fact that Supernatural is the first new release since
the group signed their joint deal with ForeFront and Virgin (which
includes a large general market distribution deal), the Christ-centered
message that really remains the unchanging aspect of the group is
still intact as evidenced in such songs as "Consume Me," "Into Jesus"
(the first single to the Christian market), the title track and
"Red Letters." The album highlight is probably "Since I Met You,"
which is a driving testament to the presence of Jesus in their lives.
The song is both humorous and heartfelt at the same time and a fine
example of the musical diversity on Supernatural.
Max's poetry is highlighted at the end of this project as well.
An abstract recital with a surreal musical accompaniment, it bookends
the project nicely with a similar sounding, although shorter, introduction
at the beginning. There are other production-oriented surprises
as well which really have to be heard to be appreciated.
the driving guitars and the usual upbeat rhythm section, Supernatural,
produced (as was Jesus Freak) by McKeehan and Mark Heimermann,
is definitely more closely related to Jesus Freak than any
of their other projects. Although long time fans of DC Talk's rap
oriented music may very well be disappointed, the larger number
of fans who have recently come onboard the DC Talk bandwagon with
Jesus Freak and the live album and video, Welcome to the
Freak Show will not have any reason to gripe. If anything, Supernatural
is even more of a masterpiece than Jesus Freak is. It really
is a logical progression.
Talk is going to have to have a hard time topping Supernatural
next time...then again, that's what we said three years ago with
the release of Jesus Freak wasn't it?