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The Revolution Has Begun
Artist: Randy Chester
Label: Shank Records 
Length: 13 songs / 64:03

River of Life

Fans of Georgia-based indie-band wonders Filet of Soul will recognize Randy Chester's name as the same as the band's bass player. The live album The Revolution Has Begun marks Randy Chester's first solo effort, and further proof that Athens, Georgia, continues to be a hotbed of creative musical 

By his own confession, Chester's life has paralleled the parable of the Prodigal Son. It's always those wayward souls that have drifted away from grace, only to come back, that have the best stories to tell and the most gratitude to share. This is evident throughout Chester's work on his solo debut where strong rays of restored hope radiate. At its heart, The Revolution Has Begun is a worship album, but not quite like any ordinary worship album you've heard before. The lackluster level of musical and lyrical creativity and heaploads of schmaltz that characterize so many sub-par worship albums are all completely absent here. Instead, listeners are taken along a faith journey that is both fresh in sound and inspiring in spirit. Although not overly insightful, Chester's straightforward lyrics are nevertheless sincere and memorable. He also mixes his own melodies seamlessly alongside snippets of such Christian classics as "Jesus Loves Me" and "Amazing Grace." Making the whole project work so effectively is the fact that Chester bears his compassionate heart resoundingly beating with grateful praise for his Lord and Savior so openly. 

Much like the Filet of Soul band of which Chester plays a part, his solo music also defies neat categorization. The bulk of the work comfortably conforms to a sort of moody contemporary folk rock. In other words, the sort of acoustic based music with a rock edge that has catapulted people like Dave 
Matthews and Jennifer Knapp into popularity. However, about mid-album Chester shifts gears to offer a pair of R&B flavored reggae praise numbers which serve as two of the album highlights. The Twenty-Third Psalm has certainly seen its fair share of adaptations, yet Chester's melodic ballad interpretation with its Kansas-like magnitude stands out among them. Another highlight, "Broken Mirror," is a powerful praise song that first appeared on Filet of Soul's Incommunicado album. All three of the other Filet of Soul members make guest appearances on Chester's debut in some capacity or another , including lead singer Adam Beadles lending supporting vocals and the consistently mesmerizing drum playing of Cornelius Freeman. Greg Beadles, Filet of Soul guitarist and principal songwriter, has produced the album with a crisp, clear sound that often transcends the troubles of 
recording in a distracting live setting.  

The only song that seems out of place among the collection is Mackenzie Terrell's "Lullaby." It was very gracious of Randy Chester to share Terrell's beautiful song on his album, but it would be more at home on Terrell's own solo album, which judging from her talent as a singer and songwriter may not be too far behind.

Chester is doing his part to fulfill the great commission by demonstrating the crossroads his own personal story has taken with the Lord's story of salvation. It's a story not unlike many of our own stories, yet a variation on the greatest of all themes that truly never grows old. Chester manages to find a perfectly palatable way to serve up that theme again for a new generation with ears to hear. 

Steven Stuart Baldwin   12/20/2000  



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