Remember East to West, the early 90s Christian pop-group that disbanded after two albums? Well, Jake, a pop-trio reincarnate made up of three brothers--none of whose names are "Jake"--has tried to bring back that sound for the new millennium. On their self-titled debut, the brothers Penner (Marty, Josh, and Toby) have the entire boy-band image, an excess of melodic vocals, and extreme overusage of the word "baby."
The first song on the album, as well as the first radio single, is entitled "Waiting." It's a decent song about the hunger that we as Christians experience for God, but unfortunately it masks the group's true colors since it sounds more contemporary and reminiscent of something you'd expect on a Watermark album. Only after hearing the rest of the album can you get a feel for who Jake really is. Now, first comes the bad news. The first point is that "Waiting," is the slowest cut on the album. Second, the rest of the songs on the album sound exactly the same. Not that the tracks aren't good, but a listener can easily get déjà vu after switching from "More" to "Right Time" to "I'm Okay." This makes the disc boring and awfully repetitive. With synthesizers too retro to be called "techno" and rhythms at home in a dance club, the style that Jake is trying to claim is outdated in the year 2000, another downside to their debut.
So where are the bright spots on Jake? Despite the aforementioned flaws, there are a few songs that are gems on this album. Track #4, "The One," is quite an upbeat tune about how it only takes one person to change the world#by lb®ing a life that projects Christ and sets an example for others. "Melt Me," following "The One," provides very compassionate lyrics corresponding to the way God melts hearts of stone. Two tracks later, "Believer" is a plea for faith in times of serious doubt, and track #8, "Don't Want to Lose," is as close to rock as Jake gets on the album. While the amazing acoustic guitar on the song showcases Toby Penner's talent, it would be a lot better if the lyrics were tuned on God and not on women.
There's not a whole lot more to say about Jake. This attempt is very honorable for a first album but not without its weak points. Still, if you heard "Waiting" on the radio and are a fan, chances are you'll enjoy the rest of the album as well. If you don't like monotony though, you might want to save your money to buy a different pick.
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