Monday, April 02, 2012

Review: Travis Ryan's Fearless Debut

Travis Ryan’s debut album is an excellent combination of driving rock guitar riffs and a solid message that always manages to refocus our attention on Christ. Collaboration with Grammy award winning producers, OneRepublic’s Brent Kutzle, and songwriters Matt Redman, Jason Ingram, Brenton Brown and Dan Bailey resulted in an awesome album that captures and holds your attention from beginning to end. The quality of musicianship showcased throughout this project is more than enough to keep you interested in what’s going on behind the vocals while not distracting from the message contained in the lyrics.

This is due to Ryan’s approach. His tenure as worship leader for Saddleback Church has cultivated a true minister’s heart that results in a message the church needs to hear. Beginning with the title track, “Fearless,” Travis encourages the church to shake itself awake and drive out all fear by working to perfect the love of Christ in our lives. Another indication of the heart behind this project is the fact that he calls this album his “altar.” Married with two young sons, Travis says, “If I died, these are the songs I would want my children to point to and say: that was my dad; my dad believed that. This is an altar to God.” He’s done an excellent job.

While the message is strong and it’s clear the songs were clearly written with a deeper purpose, the musicianship did not suffer. The primary musical drive comes from the interplay between rock guitar riffs and the driving drums generously sprinkled throughout the album. While there are no screaming guitar solos to speak of, those who enjoy a good rock guitar riff will definitely enjoy the feel of these songs. However, if you prefer a softer, more mellow approach you’ll that as well. While there’s nothing groundbreaking about this album Ryan does an excellent job of balancing musically interesting, driving material with the lyrical aspect of songwriting. You’ll find worship songs, uplifting messages, and challenges for personal growth. A couple favorites are “Awaken Us” and “Devotion” each for different reasons. The primary focus on “Awaken Us” is the lyrical encouragement to lift our eyes to God and contains this prayer:

“This is my desire, come like a fire, awaken us, awaken us”

Devotion is more of a personal declaration that, “I’m gonna sing forever, sing forever, gonna find you...” It’s a focus on personal relationship and friendship and devotion to the one that walks on water and paid our ransom.

When you think about it, isn’t that what it’s all about? I don’t know about you but if you’re anything like me life is crazy, busy, and incredibly distracting, making it easy to lose perspective. That’s where albums like this come in. Every time it plays I’m immersed in a worship experience that drives my focus from the distractions of this crazy life to the joy, friendship, and grace I experience in the presence of the Lord. To me that’s exactly what it’s all about...           

Reviewed by Michael Henson.

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