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  Breaking Beautifully 
Artist: Addison Road 
Label: In The City Music 
Web site: www.addison-road.com

Addison Road, a Texas-based Christian pop-rock, band has a good musical future ahead given the right opportunity. But we all know how fickle the Christian music industry can be and CCM in general has taken a bit of dive in terms of quality. But Addison Road is an exception. Just listen to Breaking Beautifully, their latest album, produced by Audio Adrenaline's Barry Blair. Lead singer Jenny Simmons and her husband, rhythm guitarist Ryan Simmons, who met while students at Baylor University, lead this band. 

"All I Need Is You," the album's first song and first single is an up-tempo rocker that demonstrates praise and worship music can have a solid beat. The strongest track lyrically, vocally and instrumentally is "Good-Bye," which sounds like one of those early-to-mid-'90s women-led bands like Veruca Salt or Letters to Cleo. This is the one that should be all over radio. 

Jenny Simmons vocals are a bit pedestrian, but Ryan Gregg's lead guitar playing stands out throughout the album, as does Gregg Herrington's drumming. "Seek" is about two friends taking separate spiritual paths, while the strangely alluring alt-rock of "Peace" has Jenny Simmons telling us to "breathe deep, tomorrow's almost here." After the pleasant praise song "Before," there is a nice acoustic guitar instrumental, which ultimately closes the album. 

Andrew West Griffin  4/14/04 

It might surprise you to know that there are more girl-fronted Christian bands than just Superchic[k]. One promising band is the indie-powerhouse Addison Road.

Formed as a hobby among college buddies, Addison Road has emerged from the local scene to the national stage with a discography of two eclectic albums, led by the edgy vocals of Jenny Simmons.  Though it’s seven months old, Addison Road’s latest project, Breaking Beautiful, is probably something you haven’t heard.

The first thing any listener will notice is that it’s hard to pin a style onto Addison Road.  Simmons’ lead vocals have a chameleon-like quality to them.  Overall, one could hear an amalgamation of Natalie Merchant, The Benjamin Gate’s Adrienne Liesching, Avril Lavigne, and Alanis Morrisette.  Sometimes this diversity works; other times, it does not work.

The sophomore album, produced by former Audio Adrenaline guitarist Barry Blair, is a true sequel to the first CD, Not What You Think.  Addison Road has established itself as a band of three styles; listeners hear tastes of alternative, power ballads, and good old rock ‘n’ roll, with consistently spiritual themes.  Fans of the first album will find more of the same on
Breaking Beautiful.

Addison Road is at its best when they’re rocking out. The edginess in Jenny Simmons’ voice on songs like the opener “All I Need is You” and “Can’t Get Over It” fills a void in the alternative genre that hasn’t been replaced since the demise of The Benjamin Gate.  

The WB could use the power ballads “Hold On, Let God” and “Walk-Away” for their teen dramas.  Simmons transforms her voice from rock impresario to an Alanis sound, only much, much better.

Some songs were just okay to me, or as Randy Jackson would say, “Aiiight.”  In these “okay” songs, there is an uncomfortable tension between Simmons’ piercing voice and the background instruments.  “Escape”, drags in tempo and doesn’t really showcase Simmons effectively.  The background guitars are actually quite cool; it’s just a bad fit for the lead vocals.  The same holds true for “Peace”, a track that has incredible lyrics that get lost in the uncomfortable music.

“Good-Bye” has a catchy, rock hook, but the verses are awkward, rhythmically, with a lot of lyric repetition (the phrase “say goodbye” is repeated over 30 times).

All’s well that ends well, though, as Addison Road finishes Breaking Beautifully with a charming praise song (“Before”) that could be adapted for church use. The psalm-like prose of this track makes it an appealing closer.

Breaking Beautifully, like many sophomore albums, should be a time for artists to define themselves.  Here’s hoping that Addison Road finds their niche in the alternative rock genre, because they do it so well.

Marcus Hathcock 5/19/2004

P.S. There is a hidden instrumental tune at 5:21 on the final track.  It’s nearly four minutes long, and is one of the most refreshing songs on the album.
 
 

Marcus Hathcock is an independent Christian music journalist.  He is finishing his journalism/communications degree at Portland State University, in order to one day write for a living.  His experiences range from music performance, to writing for a daily newspaper, to honing his knowledge working in Christian music retail.  He is available for public relations/marketing consultation, as well as writing copy for all media.  Marcus can be reached at marcus@hathcock.com.

 
 
   
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