The Phantom Tollbooth
Vessel of Weakness
Artist: Ralph Van Manen
Label: Artica Records (Word UK)
Length: 11 tracks / 44.14 minutes
 
Ralph Van Manen is the Netherlands's biggest CCM star, with a string of albums to his name. In many ways the music is reminiscent of Michael W. Smith, with a light rock/adult contemporary feel and soulful vocals, and at other times his voice sounds more like Steven Curtis Chapman. The electric guitar is fairly prominent, but doesn't really drive the music as much as it could, never getting beyond the light rock sounds of Bon Jovi's mellower work.
 
The lyrics are written and delivered in English, and most are linked with bible passages in the album sleeve. They are neither particularly distinctive nor overly disappointing. The Christian emphasis is clear, if not pushed in the listener's face, which again ought to appeal to fans of artists like Michael W Smith.
 
There's nothing exceptional to report in this solid continuation from Ralph Van Manen. While he could use his talents for something more distinctive, fans will probably still lap this up.
 
By James Stewart (12/05/98)