The co-writer of “Don’t Stop Believing” gives us an album with plenty of heart, but a mass of forgettable and frustrating songs. If you can remember many of these ten minutes later, I’d be surprised.
Label: identity Records
Time: 13 tracks / 56 mins.
Cain’s claim to fame is writing and co-writing from his time in Journey. Songs like “Who’s Crying Now?” and “Don’t Stop Believing” (the No. 1 digital catalogue song in history) bear his mark.
This selection was partly inspired when Cain led worship at a conference and found that “some of these songs are pretty light: it doesn't seem like they are really talking to God, they sound like they are talking to some girl, but there's no God in the song, there is no Bible in the song.”
That is fine, but he has gone too far the other way: much of the disc sounds like he is writing statements of faith, squeezing them into whatever scraps of music he can wrap around the lines, and when that method fails, just almost talking them. The longer it plays, the more the songs mesh into each other, making the disc far from memorable. Poetry, hooks and melody have taken a holiday.
The first two songs don’t even end properly; they just fizzle out unexpectedly. Then in the middle of the disc, we get two minutes of spoken word that sounds like an extended advert.
At least he is trying to put some content into the songs, however much he crowbars them into place. Then songs like “Your Waters” lurch in the other direction, sounding like the clichéd, write-by-numbers formula songs that American Christian radio lives off.
He does get the balance right for opener “Deeper than Deep,” a song with a definite tune and well-constructed lyrics (the depth of God’s character and wanting to go deeper in response). The title track, where Cain sounds like a cross between Michael W. Smith and Steve Knightly, also has some passion.
Cain puts his heart into these songs; his zeal is most tangible. God has turned his life around and you can easily sense the gratitude.
“I’ve wasted so much time without you in my life
But you knew, Lord, what was to come.
On a broken street of dreams you chose to save my soul
Felt the arrow pierce, the healing had begun.”
I just wish he would use his head more to build the song, or start with the tune as he normally does. Cain is trying to bring people back to the word. Ironically, he’d probably be more successful in doing that if he put his lyrics into some better tunes.
So five tocks for his heart, but for the music...