Normally, I don't like snappy happy music, and I'm thinking Bangles here, but some people just have an extraordinary knack—guys like David Wilcox, Michael Franks, and Michael Tomlinson—so much so that you can't help but fall into their optimistic wiles. Now add Ross Vick to that list, because he definitely has the magic. A writer and co-writer with a truly captivating voice, this tunesmith makes the listener smile from heart to lips. 100% radio friendly, Vick knows his way around a good hook, a trait shown several times on the second cut Lay Me Down, which would normally be a sure chart climber except that…there's no place for music like this any more, or so it seems. Unpretentious, toe-tapping, innocent while erudite, craftsmanship like this was somewhat viable when Seals & Croft were in their brief heyday but has always struggled amid market mediocrity. Think of Batdorf and Rodney, Barnaby Bye, the Ditty Bops, and the gents I mentioned earlier, and you've an idea why Trueheart is the kind of ensemble that should be spreading broad contentment through the airwaves but will most likely be fated to remain a cult band, despite the promo sheet informing us there has indeed already been radio reception, the group even opening for the Beach Boys (!) in a Make A Wish Foundation event.
So why the hell haven't I heard of them? This is their fourth release! Maybe I just need to turn on the friggin' radio more (shudder!—though, for this kind of music, it'd be worth it). The Road is a good example of how the fare carries itself: acoustically driven, a beautifully subdued piece of achy love and loss, almost Gordon Lightfoot-ish in its poignancy and sonorities. Then comes Goodbye, crossing that quality with Kenny Loggins and Wes King. In fact, every cut on this disc is very very good, shot through with rays of light and hopeful shadows. Had Ambrosia and Pablo Cruise been able to write this genuinely from mind and heart, then backed it with equally apropos musical complementation, they'd still be around. Gary Leach does a superb job of arranging and producing the whole affair (playing multiple instruments and singing as well), perhaps a trifle over-produced in a few spots but highly sympathetic to Vick's voice and emotional tone.
I'll tentatively warn that there's a good deal of low-key Christianity present. As an atheist, I'm less than nuts about it, but, since I regard Christ as one of the true proto-anarchists and greatly appreciate his work, I can't help but warm up to Vick's artful and sincere ground-level continuance of that travail. In that, then, he again joins the earlier mentioned Wes King as well as Phil Keaggy & Glass Harp, two sterling examples of Christian rock that don't neglect art for proselytization. However, the philosophy hardly causes a ripple when the music is this fine, this catchy, and this revivifying—in fact, Vick so aptly captures the profoundly simple lessons of Jesus (as opposed to the Bible, especially the Old Testament) that we're forced to consider how universal and timeless they are, how humanely they address the human condition, and how gently any of them sits on anyone's sense of responsibility (should I mention that, after Christ, there are only 2 commandments, not 10 [see Matthew 22:37-40]? Perhaps not, Christians know nothing of this.).
That to the side, if you haven't smiled for a while, even through the perpetual haze of frustration with human foibles, or if you have and you'd kinda like to keep it up, grab this CD. It's one of those rare gifts that just keeps on giving.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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