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December 2001 Pick of the Month

Come Together
Artist: Third Day
Label: Essential Records
Length: 12/46:33

Mac Powell's voice has often been likened to a cross between Darius Rucker (Hootie & the Blowfish) and Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam).  On Conspiracy No. 5, that comparison may have had some validity to it.  On Come Together, Third Day seems to have come into their own, establishing their own sound, walking the line between bluesy, southern-flavored rock, and songs that are destined to become part of worship services across the country.

The album opens with the title track, with a Michael W. Smith-style piano intro, followed by an Audio Adrenaline type of sound, as sung by Russ Taff around the time of The Way Home.  The song calls on Christians to unite in the face of hardships, the idea that there is, in fact, strength in numbers:

  We've got to come together
  'Cause in the end we can make it ­ alright
  We've got to brave the weather
  Through all of the storms
  We've got to come together
  ' Cause in the end we cam make it ­ alright
  We've got to learn to love.
"40 Days" shows Powell with an intense desire to rely on God through the difficult times.  "Show Me Your Glory" will be the adult contemporary hit, and probably will be an addition to many youth services very soon. 

Several songs walk the old line of "is this song about God or my girlfriend?" ambiguity.  "It's Alright" looks forward to the Second Coming, but never refers to God directly.  "I Don't Know," "When the Rain Comes," and "Get On" are similar in this regard: if you are familiar with Third Day, you know they are referring to "Christian" ideas.  If you are a first time listener, you may not see the entire message behind the song.  This in no way detracts from the quality of the music.

"Get On" is a rant to and against Satan, or perhaps someone who is consistently negative:

  Excuse me if I still question
  Carefully all of your intentions
  I've decided that I won't listen
  Because your words only bring division.
Reliance on God and patience in troubled times are a recurring theme, popping up in "I Got You," "Come Together," "40 Days," and "It's Alright."  "I Don't Know" is a plea for forgiveness, somewhat in the vein of Psalm 51. 

Powell's vocals are a pleasant mix of Russ Taff, Joe Cocker, and Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots).  Musically, the band is as strong as ever and shines on worshipful numbers "Show Me Your Glory" and "Sing Praises."  At first, this album didn't catch my fancy, but after repeated listens, it has grown on me to the point where I can't decide if I like it more than Conspiracy No. 5--their best up to this point.

Brian A. Smith 11/5/2001

It seems to be inevitable that whenever a band releases a really great album, it is followed by a mediocre one. That is certainly the case with Third Day's newest release. Last year's Offerings  was the band's masterpiece, effectively capturing their passion for God and their outstanding musical abilities in what was one of the best albums of 2000. 

Following the trail of Offerings' tremendous commercial victory, Come Together is a somewhat disappointing successor.  While there are a number of highlights, Come Together suffers from too many uninspired, forgettable moments, staining the project's overall result. Even lead singer Mac Powell, whose commanding voice has been the band's greatest attribute in the past, isn't able to lift the tone. A real shame, considering there are plenty of bright spots, from bound-to-be concert favorite "Get On" to the folksy praise tune "Sing Praises." 

Eric Daams 11/10/2001

I confess I don't own Third Day's renowned album, Offerings, so I don't have the expertise to compare the two albums. But I can say that Come Together is filled with many awesome tunes, it's one to add to anyone's CD collection, a fan prior to this album or not.

The album contains 12 songs, all of which have something in them to look forward to hearing--be it lead singer Mac Powell's edgy voice, the inspiring and thought-provoking lyrics, or the powerful instruments. The songs cover a wide spread of lyrical content, from worship based ("Sing praises to our God/sing Praises to our King/let all the nations sing of His love") to more of a personal side of their relationship with God ("My heart makes me wonder how much longer 'til You're coming back to take me away, My heart longs for You to fly right through the sky and take me to the place where I will never feel my heart break down again").  Each one has special meaning, and are easy to relate to whichever way you look at them. Put that together with the powerful music accompanying it, and you'll find it hard to pick a favorite. 

Overall, the album covers all aspects needed for creating a good album--which this undoubtedly is. 

Jessica Heikoop   11/15/01

Sometimes, when a band becomes very successful, they decide to completely change their sound. U2 did it. Dc Talk has done it more than once. Well, most Third Day fans will be pleased to hear that, despite the massive success of the band's Offerings album and subsequent tour, the Christian rock quintet from Atlanta has made no major departures from their signature sound on their latest album, Come Together.

While it's still basically the same Third Day we have all come to know and love, there are a few minor differences between Come Together and previous Third Day albums. Come Together is much less worship-oriented than Offerings. Also, Come Together is not nearly as raw-sounding as Time. In fact, the latest Third Day record is perhaps their most heavily produced to date. The album kicks off with some electronic beeping sounds, and songs like "My Heart" and "It's Alright" are very polished. While some fans may prefer the old, more live sounding Third Day, most folks will probably have no problem with the production values.

The album begins with the title track, one of the band's catchiest songs to date. The emphasis of the song is unity, a topic that we need to be reminded of. Unfortunately, this theme is basically forgotten after this song, which makes one wonder why they even bothered to name the record Come Together.

Despite the lack of a clear central theme, however, the band serves up some of their most thoughtful lyrics and most infectious melodies to date on Come Together "Forty Days" is a fast-paced rocker with encouraging lyrics. In fact, many of the songs on Come Together offer encouragement and coax the listener to persevere, making the album to be one of the most optimistic and uplifting to come along in quite some time.

Although there are not quite as many worship tunes on Come Together as many fans will undoubtedly expect, Third Day has not totally abandoned their worship roots. "Show Me Your Glory" is one of the most beautiful songs that the band has recorded in a long time. "Nothing Compares" is also an impressive praise song, but "Sing Praises" is a bit too repetitive and simplistic to really be taken seriously.

Has Third Day changed any since Offerings and Time? Well, yes. Mac Powell's vocals and songwriting are stronger than ever. The band seems to have matured a bit, too. And the always-impressive producer Monroe Jones did take a risk and push the band towards a more clean-cut sound. Come Together is definitely a strong addition to Third day's catalogue, and while a few fans may still prefer Offerings or Time, Third Day shows no signs of slowing down, and Come Together will most certainly become a new favorite for Christian rock fans.

Josh Hurst 11/15/2001

There’s something admirable when an artist finds his niche, explores it to the fullest, and still remains entertaining and creatively liberated in the process.  That’s exactly what you’ll find on Third Day’s fourth studio album, Come Together.

Remaining true to their southern roots, the album contains a mixture of the sounds that propelled them to the forefront of the Christian music scene, while also wandering a few feet out of their own backyard to try a few new musical endeavors. 

The title track showcases Third Day frontman Mac Powell’s gritty lead vocals in the call to believers to put up, not just a united front, but a united whole in the face of the enemy.  The song is an unashamed anthem and is destined to become a favorite among fans.  Lyrically, the song becomes a tad tedious, but is fueled by its priceless message.

“Forty Days” celebrates a faith that stands tall amidst the storm of trials undergone on earth.  Falling in the vein of the southern rock found on Time, the song possesses a driving beat, courtesy of drummer David Carr and bassist Tai Anderson and some relentless, grinding guitar work from the duo of Mark Lee and Brad Avery.  Powell offers a gem lyrically when he wrestles with trials faced: 

Here I am in what feels like the end
So I turn to You, my Lord, again
With this sorrow buried deep within
This heart that You have made
“Show Me Your Glory” is another great addition to the ever-growing arsenal of praise/ballads that Third Day has assembled.  Written by guitarist Mark Lee and Marc Byrd, the song boasts some of the most beautiful lyrics and worshipful music from Third Day.  Powell sings of God’s glory being “glimpsed in the corner of my eye” and later as “a flash of lightning reflected off the sky.” 

“Get On” bleeds over musically from “Show Me Your Glory” and tackles the problems of gossip and slander that so often become typical parasites within the Church.  Powell takes a pro-active approach in his songwriting, and doesn’t beat around the bush with his thoughts, singing, “I’ve decided that I won’t listen, because your words only bring division. Get on, get on, and get away from me.”  It’s on this track that Third Day cuts loose, musically, and cooks up some classic “southern-fried” rock.

“My Heart” marks the lyrical debut of Avery into the mix and is coupled with a tune that tightropes the ledge between rock and pop. “Still Listening” is a fun, rootsy track that sounds something akin to a “Gaither Homecoming,” Third Day style, of course.

“It’s Alright” looks for peace on earth while anticipating the return of Christ, while “I Don’t Know” sounds similar to Time’s “Can’t Take the Pain,” with moody orchestrations and guitars ruling the scene.  “When the Rain Comes” ventures into the easy listening genre and boasts some excellent acoustic guitar playing from Lee and Avery.

Come Together is not a perfect album, though.  “I Got You” is the one huge step away from the typical Third Day.  The harnessed pop-sounding tune features assorted record scratches and skips and keyboard elements that may alienate some fans.  However, Powell’s signature vocals remain consistent and passionate in its delivery. 

The latter half of the album drags a little, as well, with no true driving rock to be found after “Get On.”  In addition, Third Day’s earthy signature isn’t as readily evident as on Time, as if the album may have been too long in the making and suffered from over-production.

However, the band has made some definite strides.  The guitar work of Lee and Avery is a definite highlight of the album.  The duo has quietly matured into two of the more accomplished and creative guitarists in entertainment and seems to have fed off of each other’s work throughout Come Together.  Powell seems more like a man on a mission than a performer, which adds credibility and realness to his vocals, and the band sounds very comfortable in their sound, without sounding stagnant or trite.

And that, essentially, is what makes Come Together a quality record.  It takes full advantage of what makes Third Day one of the premier musical acts today (Powell’s gritty vocals, Avery and Lee’s nimble and creative fretwork, and just plain good southern rock) and turns out an enjoyable album that should garner them a larger audience and a few more awards to boot.  Though not the breakthrough-type recording that Time and Offerings proved to be, it shows that the boys from Georgia know what makes them a good band. And they do these things well.

Matthew Williams  11/19/01

Third Day has a few problems. They can't seem to decide whether they are going to be a straightforward southern roots-rock band or an eclectic modern rock band. They also can't seem to decide if they're going to be a worship band or not. Then again, maybe these aren't problems.

Come Together is undoubtedly Third Day's best effort yet.  It falls more in the eclectic vein of Conspiracy No. 5, rather than the pure southern flavor of their self-titled debut and 1998's Time. The band's tightest and most complete recording to date, it avoids the "filler syndrome" that was perhaps the greatest downfall of their previous albums: a few gems, a few decent songs, a few filler tunes and one or two stinkers. By contrast, Come Together is a cohesive recording. Each song contributes something to the album as whole.

Despite their hybriding tendencies, Third Day's music is still pretty standard as far as music goes. The main thing that distinguishes them from every other rock outfit out there is the commanding presence of lead vocalist and primary lyricist Mac Powell. For better or worse, this band seems to rise and fall on his shoulders. Fortunately, it's for the better on Come Together.

Third Day is well known for their worship-inspired lyrics. The huge popularity of Offerings, their all-worship recording, attests to this. Come Together contains a large helping of similar songs, including standouts "Nothing Compares" and "I Don't Know," as well as the single "Show Me Your Glory." To Third Day's credit, they were playing worship music long before worship became a career move and everyone was falling all over themselves to release a worship album. Further, their worship anthems remain among some of the best in recent memory.

Diehard fans will eat this record up. Those who haven't yet been swayed probably won't find anything extraordinarily compelling. However, if Third Day continues to release albums like this, they may yet make believers out of everyone.

Megan Lenz  11/23/2001

   
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