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Never Alone
Artist: Ten to One
Label: Bulletproof Records
Length: 11 + 1 tracks / 37:54 min

Never Alone
With Open Arms

Ska--energy, average vocals, guitars dragged over from the punk rock scene, and mediocre lyrics. Thatís the general formula to much of todayís ska. Ten To One join this scene, offering little ground-breaking material, but still managing to create an enjoyable debut. 

They shine when they get around to churning out the hard, grinding guitar punk numbers. Perhaps itís the fact that they've got two guitarists which helps these tracks push the rating of _Never Alone_ up a sizable portion. It is on these songs that Ten To One dare to sprinkle in just a dash more energy, and it is these songs which deserve repeated play. 

The main fault to Never Alone is when the band attempts to play ska songs--the majority (not including "Nothing Without You" or "Phone Calls"--absolute highlights) are mediocre, bland, and basically lacking in a level of creativity which could have made this album more interesting. The album kicks off with the title track, a ska song of the type I described previously. The comparison to the Skadaddles is unavoidable: the lead vocals, the lyrics and the fact that the two bands have toured together all help to throw Ten To One in the same box as the Skadaddles. 

The lyrics follow the basic formula which seems to reoccur around every corner in Christian music--donít say anything that will raise any legalistic Christian eyebrows, mention God in most songs, and donít stray too far from the usual cliches and "in-phrases." To be fair, the lyricist does not fail the test, hitting the mark with "Phone Calls," a song that portrays the writerís lamentations when his love is gone, and wonít call:

All this time Iím sitting around, taking root into the ground
Itís killing me all this time youíre away, hope that you came back some day
Looking at your pretty face. Now Iím in a happy place
When youíre gone, Iím lost, Iím alone, I want you on my own
Ten To One offer some solid highlights. "Nothing Without You" opens with piano, not unlike ĎLaLa Landí, by All Star United and develops into an energetic ska/punk song. "Phone Calls" features some tantalizingly enjoyable guitar playing, which also just happens to let go of calmness and greet madness with a punk rock ending. 

In the end, though, Never Alone is a bit too mediocre for my tastes. If you are a die-hard ska fan, you will probably still find this a worthwhile album to have a listen to. But for those wishing for something a little more innovative, with a little more spice, try Five Iron Frenzy. 

Eric Daams 4/9/2000

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