From the 11-song tracklist to the outdoor portrait cover art, No Turning Back is through and through a Brandon Heath album. There isn't anything groundbreaking here, but this is nonetheless an enjoyable Christ-centered project filled with skillful storytelling and that laid-back musical vibe that permeates all of his albums. Heath has always been one of the finest of the Christian radio staples, and No Turning Back will only continue to solidify that status.
Instead of further diving into the folksy and country explorations of Blue Mountain, Heath has returned to a sound that is more in line with his first two albums. "No Turning Back" is an upbeat pop/rock tune with a hefty baseline, steady drum beat, and airy guitar licks. It may have a fairly predictable song structure, but this is outweighed by the beautiful harmonies of David and Leslie from All Sons & Daughters. Two of the strongest tracks, "Girl of My Dreams" and "Sing Brave," cultivate a welcoming acoustic pop sound that make you feel like you are hanging out with him on his back porch. The piano ballad "S.O.S." carries a gloomy tone that gives the soul searching lyrics some extra weight. Surprisingly, Heath's "pop/rock over a hip hop beat" style is only represented on "One Way To Heaven." While most of these genres are pulled off remarkably well, there are two that are not quite as impressive--the modern worship song "Behold Our God" and the dub-step influences on "Only Just Met You."
Thematically, half of the record plays out as a journey back to the significant moments in his faith journey, namely when he first trusted Jesus as his savior. With the help of his warm and inviting voice, songs like "Sing Brave" and "S.O.S." effectively convey the curiosity, doubts, joy, and love that he experienced during those times. In "Sing Brave," Heath tells us about singing in front of his 2nd grade classmates, as a new believer, and now on stage. Some of the lyrics are a little cliché, but the song is so heartwarming that it ends up being an album highlight. The rest of the songs fit well with this main theme, but don't necessarily relate to the "faith story" concept, such as Jesus being the only true salvation on "One Way To Heaven" and Heath hosting a garage sale on the comedic yet convicting "Everything Must Go." Another album highlight, "Girl of My Dreams," is an intimate song about his recent marriage that perfectly blends humor ("she steals all my closets and tells me I snore") and sentiment ("she's more than a lover, she's my best friend").
It's hard to deny that Heath can pen an amazing song and craft some pleasing tunes to relax to. If you don't care for his previous releases, No Turning Back probably won't change your mind, but if you've ever been a fan of Heath's signature AC pop, you won't go wrong picking this one up.- Preview Review date: 12/15/14; Review date: 1/21/15, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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