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Artist: Todd Agnew 
Label: INO 
Length: 17/71:28

Todd Agnew scares me.  He writes songs with heartfelt, sometimes seriously challenging lyrics, yet those songs come out of a voice box that can resemble Johnny Cash after eating a bowlful of gravel.  If you mixed Cash, Jeremy Camp, Clutch, Jason Isbell, Crash Test Dummies, and a cancer patient's talk box together, you get an idea. "Still Has a Hold," "Least of These," and "Family" make me wonder if Agnew wouldn't be better suited for country music.  The first of these has almost a Nickel Creek/Appalachian soundtrack, while "Least" is much more driven, perhaps in a Charlie Daniels sort of way.  "If You Wanted Me" is much more gravelly, reminiscent of Johnny Cash's American Recordings-era projects. "Funny" reflects on how we can make life more difficult than it should be.  "Martyr's Song" showcases a children's choir celebrating an arrival in Heaven.  "Lovers in Our Heads" is more Third Day-ish. "Preachers and Thieves" is a pointed message. Agnew continues to embrace the legacy of Rich Mullins, this time by covering "Be With You".  It comes off a bit strange with his vocal stylings, but all is forgiven due to the strength of the song itself. Once again, Agnew gives us things to ponder, even if it sounds like it is coming from the voice of Judgment. 

Brian A. Smith 
10 July 2008


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