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RISK (2003)
Risk - Click to view!"It all began with a risk."

So begins the sophomore project of Ten Shekel Shirt. Second albums always include an element of risk because the success of a second recording either makes or breaks a band. Ten Shekel Shirt is willing to take this risk, and like the child pictured on the cover abandoning his weight to the pull of gravity, this band launches into the music scene once again.

The theme of risk knits the songs together. "Cheer Up" urges the listener to "Wake up it's time to dream bigger / Wake up it's time." And why? Because "All creation waits / oh, for you to take your place, take your place / All the stars are waiting for you to shine." The earth anticipates our movement to imagine the impossible coming to light. In "Safest Place," we discover the risk involved in relationships: the chance of exposing the deeper parts of ourselves and finding rejection. Lamont Hiebert and Ben Pasley write, "I'll stay awhile / After all this time you still believe in me / And the real me is finally free cause with you I know I'm safe." The character in this song took the risk and found it to be a successful one. The band also takes a risk by writing "Over The Room," a song about child prostetution. It tells the story of one girl who literally thought she "might never see the daylight." Ten Shekel Shirt journeyed to Thailand to witness first hand some of the evils in this deadly occupation. Lamont says, "We actually saw a room full of young girls with numbers on them displayed behind glass, like a store window." The band celebrates a life - and the lives of other who have emerged from this darkness - when they say, "You made it out and you're moving on."

Lamont Hiebert, the lead singer, also takes a risk in writing his song "February." It chronicles the death of his mother and brother who perished, eight years apart, in the month of February. Many Christian albums avoid dealing with the emotions Lamont depicts: "You know I need to get alone, get out of here / For my mind to find the space / Where memories can take shape / I think it's time to slip away." Happy resolutions don't exist in this song. The listener is dropped in the midst of the remembering process, in the middle of the grief.

In fact, "February" proves to be the song that takes the most musical risks. Lamont Hiebert enters his falsetto voice with the grace of a mourner's lament, easily riding the notes. A piano, guitar and set of drums provide a musical interlude of melancholy beats, and the song completes at an unexpected moment. "This Story" can raise some eyebrows of devout Ten Shekel Shirt fans with its story-bookish feel and differing music style from the first recording. The song "Today" takes chances with its choppy beginning and uncommon pop-ish feel for an ending song. One would expect the CD to finish on one of the ballads ("Always Known You" or "Poorest King").

I actually disliked the way Risk ended, and I found the fact that both Ten Shekel Shirt and Paul Colman Trio use the same musical tactics to begin their CD to be quite annoying. Both "Risk" and "I'll Be With You" (PC3's initial track) begin with four beats of minors, then lead into the sunshine feel of the major keys. I wish the theme of risk extended beyond the lyrics and branched into the musical realm.

Overall, Risk proves to be a good recording, though it might be hard to swallow as a whole for fans of Much, the first CD. Time will tell if their project proves to be a success, but I'm pretty certain that these musicians will remain for a third creation, because their love for people shines through regardless of any apparent weaknesses.
- Hollie Stewart
October 2003
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