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DC Talk - Supernatural

Review by Paul M. Carhart
Originally published in The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM)


Since 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.

With 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.

The 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.

With 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.

"Godsend," 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.

Despite 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.

Kevin 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.

With 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.

DC 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?

   
 


Related Information

For a year or so I was a CD reviewer for The Lighthouse Electronic Magazine (TLeM) where this review was originally published.

- Paul M. Carhart

 


   
 
  © 1998 Paul M. Carhart, all rights reserved, all media.