5th December, 2007
Album: Better Questions
Artist: Todd Agnew
In a word: Perceptive
"It seems that Agnew is not asking the audience as much as he is asking himself some of the curly questions and we get to hear his journal."
I think if you take one part Tom Waits, one part Nick Cave and one part Ben Harper you might get somewhere near the vibe of Todd Agnew. I’m sure there’s a better way of describing it, but somehow this slightly theatrical yet country/blues-driven album leaves it hard to pin down and intriguing to the point of must-listen.
There is a personal search going on in this record from song to song that puts Better Questions firmly in concept album territory. It’s no Star Turtle or Ziggy Stardust discovery, but it is dealing with concepts that are obtuse and seemingly unattainable to many a Christian. Things like, ‘can the church be united?’, ‘what if Jesus meant everything He said?’, ‘do we chose or are we chosen?’ and ‘do we need to defend the faith or share it?’.
It seems that Agnew is not asking the audience as much as he is asking himself some of the curly questions and we get to hear his journal.
Our Great God, a duet with Rebecca St James and co-written by Fernando Ortega and Mac Powel (Third Day), is a highlight on the record, somewhat hymn-like and maybe even a little out of place in this collection of songs. Still, it is a salve for many of the edgier moments where the lyrics are confronting and thorny.
Lovers In Our Heads asks "are we more concerned with the fruit of another; never noticing our own barren branches?". If You Wanted Me muses, "if you wanted me to surrender, why’d you make these hands able to hold on so tight?, and if you wanted me to be like You, why’d You make me like me?". Then there’s emo rock of War Inside that states, "there’s a war inside of me between who I am and who I want to be”.
Agnew seems fine to take the listener on a sonic journey from country rock to worship epic to dirgy rock to hopeful, string-drenched arrangements with childrens' choirs!
For me, it’s fun, theatrical, thought-provoking and, well, intriguing, that Christian music actually has someone like Agnew.