The Parker Brothers, “Closer to Home”

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When it comes to the Christian music scene, there isn’t much variety.  While Christians can appreciate the messages found in Christian music, Christians also want to listen to good music.  That can become difficult.  So how do The Parker Brothers measure up?

That depends on what song you’re listening to.  Closer to Home has some killer songs, particularly the title track and “Don’t You Come ‘Round No More” (and no, that’s not a Tom Petty remake).  Those songs throw in a cool mix of folk and rock that you don’t hear very often.  However, like many Christian albums, it also has an abundance of ballads.  That’s not an inherently bad thing.  After all, Thriving Ivory’s songs are almost entirely ballads, and their first album is one of the best that I own.  However, these don’t all stand out.  “Meet Us Here” is phenomenal.  “Hold On With Me” is pretty great too.  But “You’re Loved” and “Home” suffer from the repetitive nature of the ballads, and end up sounding pretty boring.

That said, there are some interesting sounds here.  As I’ve already mentioned, I love the folk/rock mixture that “Closer to Home” “Don’t You Come ‘Round No More.”  In fact, I really wish that these guys had used that as more of their signature sound for the album, rather than being a side highlight.  There’s also one of the most unique tracks on the record: “If I Were a Zombie.”  Imagine the format of the classic “If I Had a Million Dollars” but apply it to the zombie apocalypse and throw in a bunch of pop culture references.  As you can imagine, it’s pretty fantastic, and the sort of thing that becomes viral on Facebook and YouTube.  Even if this style isn’t your cup of tea, you should buy that song.

So what about the lyrics?  I’m pleased with them, I must say.  A lot of Christian bands join the Christian label for the sake of the audience without ever doing anything to promote the Christian worldview.  The Parker Brothers are not among that crowd, even having a straight-up worship song and addressing the image of a woman in a way that could easily be read as addressing sexual purity head-on (“Don’t You Come ‘Round No More”).  I love that.

I do, however, wish to offer a similar caution to the one I offered in my post about Christian rap.  Honoring God through our music is one thing.  I’m not against that.  I’m certainly not against promoting the Christian worldview.  We need more of that.  What I am against is turning our worship to God into another segment of pop culture.  This album doesn’t do that, but it is something we need to be cautious about when we approach the genre as a whole.

With that said, it’s a decent album.  It’s not going to win any awards, but there are certain songs on it I love and will keep as a part of my music collection.

Especially “If I Were a Zombie.”  It’s amazing.

Track-by-Track – Amazon link to album at the bottom of the page

Closer to Home: The first track is always important. This one sets a unique tone for the record with a sound that feels like a cross between The Civil Wars and Daughtry, set to lyrics about, as the title suggests, getting closer to home.  I’m not crazy about the clean guitar intro and the lack of all drums but a bass beat is kind of weird, but the song is really catchy and has a pretty cool guitar solo.  4/5

Meet Us Here: A sharp and admittedly awkward departure from the first track, “Meet Us Here” is an obvious ballad with acoustic guitar, piano, and occasional strings.  It’s an unapologetic worship song, with lines like “Here we kneel, longing to feel a little more of your grace” and “Humbled here in your truth, longing for all of you.”  It’s hard to make worship songs memorable, as all of them tend to sound the same, but I’m a pretty big fan of this one.  The vocal harmonies between the Parker Brothers on this one is pretty great, and it makes me wonder what an a capella version would sound like.  5/5

You’re Loved: This song is a message of hope to people who feel despair, that they’re loved by God.  That’s a noble message, and I appreciate that, but the song is pretty boring, and there’s some kind of weird chanting of “love” in it, which robs some of the musicality of the track.  I also don’t care for the rapping cameo, which seems a bit out of place on a power ballad like this one.  The core melody of the song is strong, and would have been better as a Goo Goo Dolls-esque ballad without the extra experimentation.  2/5

If I Were a Zombie: The title alone is enough to intrigue anyone.  It quickly turns into a fun, quirky song akin to Jason Mraz about, quite frankly, what the Parker Bros. would do if they were zombies.  I love it.  With lines like “I’d strike the shores of Jersey and have some zombie fun/I’d take out every hipster with my teeth,” not to mention “I’d munch every member of NSYNC while singing ‘Backstreet’s Back.’”  In fact, it’s an incredibly song if for no other reason than to laugh at all of the pop culture references.  It’s also catchy.  Very, very catchy.  5/5

Just A Man: I’m not crazy about this one.  It sounds like an overly generic ballad about being “Just A Man,” which is also a generic topic.  All around, it just doesn’t interest me much, especially coming on the heels of such an entertaining song.  1/5

Don’t You Come ‘Round No More: Here we get a return to the likes of the first track.  The dark, moody feel of the aggressive vocals and clever instrumentation creates an aura that mixes western with a rock attitude.  I like the lyric content as well, telling a woman not to come around anymore, because she’s not going to have his soul.  All around it’s a really neat song, and a sound I wish the Parker Bros had incorporated more into the album. 4/5

Christmas Movie Love: I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased on this one.  I don’t like Christmas music, generally speaking.  I think it’s usually a case of people using emotional association with a holiday to sell music that otherwise wouldn’t ever be good enough to make it.  That said, I do like the vocals and piano in this song.  So if you like Christmas music, you’ll probably like it.  If you don’t, then it’s just okay.  3/5

Hold On With Me: I like the acoustic intro.  The vocal trading in this track is done pretty well, too.  The lyrics are somewhat generic, with lines like “You’ve lost your grip and now nothing seems enough/But there is a light that will guide you through the night.”, but there’s something heartwarming about it that seems like it belongs at the end of a Hallmark movie.  It reminds me of The Skypilot (who you probably haven’t heard of, so you should go check them out), having a heartwarming, catchy acoustic melody.  4/5

Home: The disadvantage of the album being so ballad-heavy is that eventually some of them tend to sound just like all the others before it.  That happens with “Home.”  The lyrical content is also reminiscent of the first track on the record, but without the musicality that made the first track so good.  2/5

Country Life: This song really turned me off.  The rest of the album is a folk/pop/rock album that really works pretty cohesively.  This doesn’t fit at all.  It’s a straight-up country song that is completely out of place on this album.  It takes an album about faith, purity, hope, and throws in a song about working in the mud.  Especially when rapping comes in, it’s extremely awkward and way out of place.  1/5

Amazon Link

Logan Judy
Logan Judy is a Christian blogger and science fiction author with a Batman complex. At Cross Culture, Logan writes about film, comics, cultural analysis, and whatever else strikes his fancy. In addition to his work at Cross Culture, Logan also blogs and podcasts at A Clear Lens. You can find him tweeting about Batman, apologetics, and why llamas will one day rule the world, @loganrjudy.
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