There’s a moment during the rocking-ly reverent “Behold God is Great” where Jake Hamilton lets out a hearty “Yeah!,” which sure sounds like an awful lot like the way hard rocker Ian Astbury blasts his blustery howls with the heavy rock band The Cult. It’s at this very moment the listener is well aware he/she is not listening to your average worship album. Hamilton is like a less restrained Mac (Third Day) Powell in many places on this Jake Hamilton and the Sound album, Beautiful Rider, and it’s a beautiful thing to the ears of all sincere rockers.
There’s also a tangible spontaneity to many of these tracks, such as the loose, group vocal that ensues toward the end of “I Love Your Presence.” The song’s lyric is simple and honest, just like a good rock & roll song. Why do Christian songwriters try so hard to make their lyrics read like poetry when direct immediacy – as is found on this song – is so consistently effective? Hamilton doesn’t dress to impress, but comes to us in his work clothes, which perfectly fit the job.
Ironically, one song titled “My Ballad to the church of Laodicea” is actually no ballad at all. Instead, it is driven by a pounding drum beat while Hamilton preaches – yes, preaches – its lyrics like the combination of an Old Testament prophet, a black church pastor and Bono. Hamilton repeats the line “Wake up!’ multiple times, and this is not the gentle nudge of your mamma getting you up and ready for school in the morning; instead, this is more like your mamma trying to get you up and out of a burning house.
The song “Never Let Me Down” mixes a gut bucket blues riff with 60s pre-metal for a great, noisy rock & roll workout. (Have I mentioned it enough that this album really rocks?) It’s rare to find such a loud praise collection, which makes Jake Hamilton and the Sound’s Beautiful Rider so welcome, and also unique. “Save Me,” which finds Hamilton sparring with a thumping organ/electric guitar instrumental choir, brings to mind the blast of noise that was early Resurrection Band. To paraphrase the Eagles, we haven’t had that spirit here since 1979. For those about to rock with this new Jake Hamilton and the Sound release, I salute you! Doing so, is doing the right thing.