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The Real Me
Artist: Downpour 
Label: Rustproof Records 
Length: 10 tracks/56:07 minutes

In Love Forever 

Downpour is awash in sounds and styles as Rustproof Records makes another move into the CCM marketplace and toward CCM radio with The Real Me. Downpour’s music will fit in well between dctalk, the Newsboys, or Rebecca St. James at your local CCM outlet. Brannon Hancock, Stephen J. Busch, Andrew Adams, and Jason Scott Payton come in waves of smooth, honeyed vocals and pop tunes mixed with some alternative rock sensibilities.

This Downpour record has split personalities. The first song, “Believe,” starts with a Tom Petty feel and carries it through the tune with voluminous guitar, an active drum kit, vibrating bass, and cool harmonies. But, that vibe gets lost early as the second tune, “In Love Forever,” introduces the sugary, dance side of Downpour. Electronic drum machine-like beats and lots of keyboards quickly take hold, and put the song squarely in CCM territory. Throughout the rest of the CD, the band flirts with the edge of the Nashville-CCM ‘hood, but doesn’t wander too far.

All but two of the songs are sung to God as prayers for strength and grace to help lift us up over our weaknesses. “Hiding Place,” track three, says: “But I see your face, I feel your grace, I’m tired from the race You are my hiding place.” The song is cut from dctalk fabric, made of keyboards, a petite snare drum and big bass, with whispered lyrics underneath the floating vocal harmonies. That number is followed by “Is It Me?” (a Jars of Clay song, I mean Downpour doing a Jars song… I mean Downpour doing a song that sounds a lot like a Jars of Clay song that they wrote… yeah, that’s it…) The acoustic and electric guitars return for a visit to push “Is It Me?” but move to the back of the room for the next song, “Hold On,” another sweet flowing streamlet of slow dance beats, keyboards, and crooning vocals. I like the middle of the record including “Sometimes,” a Skillet-like song with loud guitars and pounding beats. The song has an interesting industrial rock feel, with cool vocals processed through a synthesizer and made to jump. The song also features Essential Records’ new hip-hop sensation KJ-52, taking the mic and the tune to another level. The rock continues into the next song, “Lessons in Falling.” Not quite as industrial, the rocking guitars can still be found on this one, and the band plays with the vocal synthesizer again. “Lessons In Falling” is another song about being weak and falling, but finding God there “to pick me up again.” The last few ballads of the record, including the first single off of the project, “Paradise.” feature the vocal talents of the band over some nice easy beats and melodies. An acoustic guitar and keyboard song proclaiming by pretty phonation, “If we believe in You we will be in paradise,” will probably be your radio introduction to Downpour.

Downpour, plus lots of familiar studio finesse, equals a record that is very close to being over-produced by Michael Quinlan (Raze, R. St. James). But underneath the production I get the impression that there is an engaging group of guys, who can play rock music. Is Downpour after the alternative crowd, or the contemporary Christian music culture? Maybe both, and I know the two are not necessarily exclusive, but does Downpour and Quinlan have the mix right? The public will decide.

Tony LaFianza  4/29/2000



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