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English's "Prodigal" Relatable And Believable
on February 28, 2008
Prime Cuts: Time, Redeem Me, Have a Little Faith in Me
It takes grace for a man to confess as English does on this album's lead single: "The only thing good in me is you (God)." After a tumultuous extra marital affair, divorce, re-marriage and English's own struggle with painkillers, English returns 8 years later with a tell-it-all autobiography and this ensuing CD. Like its codex counterpart, there is a confessional outspoken expressed in these songs. Rather than wallow in self-pity, English has used his weaknesses as a platform to bear testimony to God's grace which has the ability to manifest His glory despite human failings. Though English does not pen a single note on this CD, he has the uncanny ability of choosing songs that revealingly tell his story with honesty as well as with hope. This is thanks in part to a stellar lineup of A-listed songwriters such as Matthew West, Tony Wood, Sam Mizell, and John Hiatt who have contributed their works of art to this fray. And unlike some of English previous CDs, whereby God is reticently guised under the generic pronoun "he," here English is upfront and blatant in his references to the Almighty.
English is unabashedly frank in his vulnerability on the piano-led ballad "Redeem Me." A gorgeous tug at the heart confession to God for God's help in the midst of sin and despair, English sings with a realism that is endearing. God's sovereignty over all our days is the theme of "Time," is a knock it out of the park ballad that ought to be a classic to come. English veers close to Joe Cocker's version of the John Hiatt's soul ballad "Have a Little Faith in Me" with his gruff bluesy phrasings. Though "Have a Little Faith" is a love song, but in the context of the album it can be read as God's gracious invitation for us to return to Him. While the Sam Mizell and Matthew West's "Feels Like Redemption" starts off on a bluesy understated tone before breaking out into a 80s arena rock anthem.
On the perky side, opener "Sanctuary" finds English charging out with wailing guitars and thundering drums on this rocker that professes English's yearning to seek God's refuge. Lead single "The Only Thing Good in Me" first appeared on writer Ronnie Freeman's debut CD. Though the lyrics is soaked with the exaltation of God, the melody is not as engaging enough to be the vanguard radio single. While "Don't Think I'm Not Thankful" has a more sturdy tune that has a country undercurrent to it. This is no surprising as "Don't Think I'm Not Thankful" come from the pens of a couple of country music's finest scribes Michael Dulaney and Neil Thrasher.
Though "The Prodigal Comes Home" trumps on English's earnest delivery, there's nothing here that is revolutionary. With the ballads aside, the uptempos are pretty average, the standard fare of modern contemporary Christian pop music. However, what makes this a worthwhile purchase is that English takes themes--such as human frailty, sin, forgiveness, God's grace and sovereignty--and he presents them in ways that are relatable and believable