Concerts by the Burroughs have always felt a little like a raucous tent revival, but one of those secular rock ‘n’ roll Springsteen-style tent revivals. Singer Johnny Burroughs always channels his preacher father and his own ministry background in stirring up and lifting up the crowd. But he hasn’t mixed his sweaty soul music with explicitly Christian themes — until now.
Johnny’s first solo album is an unabashedly religious affair. The album even builds to a rousing 8-minute suite named “Unabashed,” complete with church organs and a backing choir.
“Lord you are here and I stare unabashedly at your beauty,” he sings. “Your glory fills and continues to fill this place.”
But it’s not quite gospel music in the traditional sense. It’s more neo-soul worship music. Several other Burroughs members appear on the album, but it’s very clearly a separate and distinct project. And though “Day 1” is not quite as raucous as much of the Burroughs catalog, it is just as funky.
It’s also more inspiring than preachy, with more praise than Bible passage. Though the lyrics are undeniably Christian, they also deliver a more general positive and spiritual vibe somewhat akin to Trevor Hall or Michael Franti.
My favorite songs are the shortest tracks. The giddy clap-along “Your Love Makes Me Happy” and the slow burn of “You Are My Home” both clock in at under four minutes.
On the other hand, a 30-second intro is unnecessary filler (I thought hip hop killed skits and intros a few years ago), and the album would be complete at the end of “Unabashed,” without the equally long closer, “Symphony of Love.”
But these are petty nitpicks. Johnny Burroughs is lifting us up again — and in a whole new way. Praise be.
— Steve Graham