Brooks Maguire – Comeback King
Brooks Maguire’s nine song follow up to 2013’s The Road I Never Chose, Comeback King, is another high point in a stunningly successful year that also found Maguire winning Jango.com/Radio Airplay’s Grand Prize for best holiday song thanks to his performance on “Santa’s Gone Surfin’”. Brooks Maguire brings an important, uplifting message with his songwriting that’s deeply informed by his religious beliefs and it is true that he uses his art as a vehicle to deliver his beliefs. However, his music is never preachy or dogmatic. At its heart, Brooks Maguire’s songs are about human beings and their lives. There’s an enormous amount of empathy in his songwriting that cuts through any potential preaching and speaks to experience we all share. It’s a beautiful and melodically glowing work that isn’t intended only for those who share his beliefs. This is music that can speak to the widest of audiences.
He really captures a great AOR rock vibe on some songs. The first of those, “Goliath”, features one of the best lyrics on Comeback King and introduces newcomers to his sparkling ability to seamlessly weave Biblical stories and symbols into very earthbound narratives. Maguire’s voice is profoundly moving. He sings like someone much younger, infused with inspiration, and his phrasing is alive with engagement. “Front Street” is a slice from Maguire’s life and much more laid back musically, percolating with the sounds and details of Maguire’s life on the island of Maui. Guest star Phil Keaggy contributes great guitar work that’s unobtrusive and adds a great deal to the song. “God Knows Your Name” is probably Comeback King’s best AOR rock effort and has plenty of musical sting despite the upbeat message. Maguire performs songs about keeping perspective and faith in the face of adversity, but it’s never clichéd or presented in a hamfisted way.
“Comeback King” comes straight from the 1980’s in its musical influences, but the top notch production that Maguire gives the track keeps it from sounding dated. He tells a great story with tremendous details in the song’s lyrics and it has a signature style that avoids falling into familiar tropes or formulas. “Makeshift Angel” is a beautifully balanced track, musically and lyrically, and Maguire sings with such respect and sensitivity that it is well nigh impossible to not be drawn in. It’s another fantastic character-driven piece. The vocals and easy going instrumentation on “Where I Come From” is a delight this late in the album and the guitar work accentuates it nicely with emotive string bends and well chosen notes. Comeback King ends with the spectacular big production number “All in God’s Time” and it will be clear why he chose this song to finish the album up. It’s a exquisitely wrought ode to his spirituality and love for God that shows awesome respect for its influence in his life. Comeback King is everything listeners can hope for and more in contemporary Christian music and can appeal to even more people if given the chance. This a powerful collection no matter what you do or don’t believe.
9 out of 10 stars