A different but familiar direction
The buzz around MercyMe’s Coming Up to Breathe was that the album was going to rock, potentially alienating the segment of MercyMe’s audience that is SUV-driving Moms who hummed along to “I Can Only Imagine” as they drove their kids’ carpools and wistfully remembered their grandfathers. Well, Soccer Moms of America, you can relax. There is nothing to fear in this set. If you could handle Michael W. Smith’s “Cross of Gold” in high school and you secretly enjoyed Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain,” then you should still be able to handle a turbo-charged MercyMe.
Coming Up to Breathe opens with its pop/rock title track—clean, high-energy ‘80s melodic rock that just seems a little out of place in ‘06. Then again, maybe it’s so out of place that it’s going to be the next big thing.
Either way, it’s clear that Bart Millard and company had a great time in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s drinking deeply from the wells of acts such as White Heart, Petra, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Guns N’ Roses and, maybe, even a little early ‘80s Kansas and are now bringing those influences to bear on their music. And like the aforementioned, these boys have learned a thing or two about hooks. “So Long Self,” for instance, has an irresistible chorus and a witty concept (first articulated by Petra in “Killing My Old Man”) that describes getting rid of one’s ego/sin nature.
“Hold Fast” is a strong and sweeping mid-tempo rocker, vaguely reminiscent of Amy Grant’s “You’re Not Alone,” reminding the listener not to give up hope. “Bring the Rain” is similarly memorable if overly earnest with its reminder that God is to be served in both sunshine and rain.
Overall, Coming Up to Breathe is an enjoyable album but one that could have benefited from more A&R direction and/or a stronger producer’s hand, either of whom could have sent some lyrics back for re-writes and forced Millard to dig deeper and come up with the kinds of word-pictures that he has proven himself capable of...It’s an ability that is clearly still there, as he proves on the final track, “I Would Die For You,” when he cleverly sings, “You never know why you’re alive/Until you know what you would die for.”
MercyMe fans will likely be pleased with this solid offering that clocks in at exactly an hour. Others who are not yet on the MercyMe bandwagon may continue to hope that they’ll come up with more creative ways both musically and lyrically to express themselves next time around.
Review Provided by CCMmagazine.com