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SMALLTOWN POETS (1997)
Smalltown Poets - Click to view!Any performers calling themselves "poets" set high hopes for music aficionados, especially on their debut. These Smalltown lyricists don't disappoint, apprehending the fierceness and delectation of life from a spry, unconformed standpoint. The first five tracks are remarkably cultivated, a pop/rock symphony unequaled by most of today's artists. "My closet's a shrine," asserts frontman Michael Johnston and the band as they compare the hard-to-access sovereigns of this world to the "Prophet, Priest, and King" who can always commune with.

Unsuppressed acoustic energy points "If You'll Let Me Love You" in an imploring direction, showing the affinity and depth of vulnerable relationships. "Everything I Hate" shreds self-satisfaction with warped, deflecting guitar, and a hope God will "cover me like a dime store suit." With radius and certainty, the Poets versify the subject of surrender in "I'll Give," an all-or-none restatement of God's power to suffice our needs. "Anymore" breaks the silence, uncovering a desire for closeness with Christ, hidden beneath a crowded, consumed life. Track six glimpses "Who You Are" in a shining star on a midnight clear, while "Scenario" locates a rocking, sublime vein of the SP guys' sound. A suite of subsequent melodies spur consideration of our tenure on earth, the first proclaiming the future "Day" of Christ's victory. "Monkey's Paw" rides on an unchecked groove, obeying Christ even when the flesh demands to be fulfilled.

Though a bit country, the hymn-like tenth cut wrestles with an individual's hollow, hesitant answer to God's call, illustrating so resourcefully the vitality of "Truth." Jovial and lenient, the closer "Inside the Bubble" muddles through the decision of salvation, daring the seekers to "come and join me." Showing equilibrium in both the elastic pop and brutal rock songs, Smalltown Poets brings a new, recurrent rhyme and method to Christian music.
- Josh M. Shepherd
July 1999
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