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Wide-Eyed and Mystified
Artist: Downhere
Label: Centricity Records
Released: May 23, 2006
Length: 13 Tracks / 54:06

Although Centricity Records pitched Downhere's new CD  Wide-Eyed and Mystified to CHR and AC radio formats the band's new album is a comfortable blend of ballads and alternative rock tunes. Stirring thoughts of Kevin Max, The Smiths and xxx Wide-Eyed And Mystified is Downhere's most memorable record yet. 

The production quality of this album pushes Downhere into another stratosphere. Having bid adieu to Word Records in 2005 and signed on with Centricity Records after they were aggressively pursued by A&R guru John Mays Downhere is benefiting from the personal attention of a smaller label.

There are probably only one or two songs from this album that will not chart in the top forty. The album opens with the splendid "The More" something brand new from Downhere. The song demonstrates the same imagination that created "What It's Like" a fabulous song from the second CD. Downhere has always possessed the ability to take a strong worship lyric and envelope it in a quirky rock tune and "The More" fits that image. The song was inspired by II Peter 1:5-9 and the exhortation to grow in our faith. 

This time out the bar has been raised. In fact not only has it been raised but as good as the past creations of Downhere have been no record of theirs yet matches the wondrous tunes that roll out track after track on this album. Lead vocalist Marc Martel once again astounds with his effortless vocals whose range is spectacular. 

"A Better Way" is a beautiful ballad that started out as a love song written by Jason Germain for his wife Heather however as appreciative as she was for the effort and the heart behind the song she challenged her husband to dig deeper. She felt there was in her words a better song in there. Germain refers to the tune as word picture of his life and faith intercepting God's grace and love. 

"Dying To Know You" has a British alternative rock feel without the accent. We may just be on the cusp of witnessing North America's response to the Britt's Delirious? Dare we hold our breath? Downhere is getting oh so close to becoming a mega band. 

It is a rare combination to find a band that can boast great musicianship, thought provoking lyrics and writes their own songs. Downhere is the whole enchilada baby! One wonders when you talk to Glenn Lavender, Jason Germain, Marc Martel, and Jeremy Thiessen if they really know just how good they are and can be. They are polished and ministry focused on stage and quiet and thoughtful off. 

At first glance "Little Is Much" may appear to be a cover of an old hymn however the song only contains one line that is the same. The song is dedicated to Germain's father Ron who pastors a small rural church in Canada. Years ago the original hymn became his favorite. Germain says, "For a pastor in a small rural setting the rewards are slow in coming and the fruits are slow to be seen. I think with our ministry we have kind of sensed that."

I could go on raving about an album that boasts great up tempo beats like "Stir", the moody "Forgive Yourself" and the worship tune "Unbelievable" but why don't you just go out and buy the record that should be nominated for several Dove Awards next spring. By far Wide-Eyed And Mystified is in the top three CDs that I have listened to this year.

By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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