Tidewater reviewed in The Phantom TollboothWith a sound like Five For Fighting or Cold Play, a voice like Leland and pop sensibility of Reliant K, this album should be a hit. But I can’t help but ask if something is missing.

The Seas We Sail
Artist: Tidewater
Label: Tidewater Place Publishing/ASCAP
Release Date: August 17, 2010
Re-release Date: April 12, 2011
Duration: 10 tracks, 38:49

With great lyrics and delivery, The Seas We Sail has made a home in my most recently played releases. Tidewater is the moniker used for the band comprised mainly of Brett Allen with assistance by Steve Chenoweth on bass and Kevin Gales with support on guitars, keyboards and additional programming. As a collection, this effort is similar to Owl City. With a sound like Five for Fighting or Cold Play, a voice like Leland and pop sensibility of Reliant K, this album should be a hit. But I can’t help but ask if something is missing.

Allen performs most instruments and supplies all song writing with an occasional helping hand by producer Kevin Gales. With a high, airy alto / tenor, Allen works the album’s message of relationships, faith, and hope with expertise. Musically, a mix of rock, pop, and modern folk / blue grass envelopes well written lyrics. The opener “Taken Me a While” displays simple, heartfelt lyrics accompanied by heavy guitar. “Surrounded” has an interesting foundation of keyboards sounding like a toy piano and programmed rhythmic beat. Sticky lyrics make this song stay with the listener. Static like background toward the song’s end has an effect of shadowing the message toward the past.

The song most likely to gain airplay, “Goodbye,” has a well-balanced melody with lyrics that play to the emotions of many, ‘And I can’t get you out of my head, and you know I’ll try but I can’t say goodbye.’ Mandolin picking begins the song “Guard,m” sounding slightly Celtic underneath strong vocals and heavy rhythm guitar. The finale, “Times We Never Had” shows the simple, stand out hook the rest of the collection misses, simplistic acoustic guitar highlighting the author’s deeply emotional lyrics. A very nice touch.

With the advent of indie and near-death of label driven musical choice, the flood of music today makes stand-out music nearly impossible. One artist, one song overlaps another in style and sound. Overall, The Seas We Sail is a great collection of very listenable music. But as I sit back listening again, I ask “where is the hook, what makes this stand out?” Individual components are present; great lyrics, production, instrumentation and engineering. This release is excellent, but it begs the question, “What makes this album uniquely special?” Where’s the hook? Perhaps the answer lies in that last, simple acoustic tune.

 

Note: the April 12 street release of this album will include a cover of Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen” and another single “The Way That I Want You,, which were not available for this review.

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Scott S Mertens