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Shoot Me Down - Click to view! Though well known in the Dallas, TX area, pop/rock band By The Tree is sadly unsigned--yet still are rocking the world with their new full-length follow-up to 97's self-titled EP. Refreshing, heartfelt and acoustic, Shoot Me Down could very well be the best acoustic album of 1999. Like many struggling indies, the band has switched players on a continual basis, eventually shortening the original six members to a very tight band of three: Cameron Tucker (drums, percussion), David Canington (keyboard and hammond b-3) and frontman Chuck Dennie (vocals, acoustic guitar). Their strength lies in Chuck's expressive, thoughtful songwriting that wrestles with spiritual warfare, doubt and surrender in the light of God's all-powerful Word. "One Drop of Blood" holds the listener with its excellent production, stirring melody and power-pop chorus emphasizing Jesus' sacrifice. The title track is the record's real gem, with a simple piano part yielding to a fervent climax as By the Tree admits, "You should have put me in the ground--shoot me down." Strumming acoustic heralds the beginning of "Seasons," about the daily choice of living for Christ; "In the Shade" and "Silence," whose beautifully moving sound and meaningful lyrics make you want to keep pushing repeat over and over again. And such is the case with all of Shoot Me Down. Chuck & Co. prove they can be slightly edgier as well. With its driving backbeat and funky verses, "Run To the River" speaks of drowning in God's forgiveness and love; the rock-steady "When You Speak" tells of the overwhelming power of a direct word from God; and, debatably the album's best cut, "Restore" is a passionate cry for the Lord to renew the joy of a love relationship with Christ. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra accompanies the band throughout, adding a rich musical texture to the already impressive Cd. For anyone who hasn't experienced Sunday night worship with BTT, they've included a three-track set for you to worship and dance to. "Lord Of the Dance," which songwriter Kevin Prosch recorded with his rough voice, is given new energy with By The Tree's mix; delirious?' "Happy Song" receives an acoustic treatment that happily trades Cutting Edge's harmonica interlude for a Texas fiddle (not much of an improvement); and, finally, former BTT member Betsy Causwell lends her surreal voice to "River is Here," which gives an Irish flair to the classic Hosanna! chorus. Stated simply, Shoot Me Down is a quintessential addition to your music collection. DON'T MISS IT!!!
- Josh M. Shepherd
June 1999

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