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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Rob Allen
Label; Inkwell Entertainment
Desert Life is a concept record that takes its listeners from love about to bloom, a man falsely accused of murder, his life in exile, and his quest to return to his true love. Rob Allen's voice is a throwback to the early 90's style of Ben Folds, Elliott Smith, and Todd Nichols (part time lead singer of toad the wet sprocket), with a dash of Death Cab for Cutie thrown in for good measure.
The story told in fifteen songs could easily be a movie in short form - each song draws a snapshot of the events in its protagonist's life. "Meet Me in the Rain" opens with a young man hoping to entice his lover into leaving the desolate small town in which they live, and star a new life with him. "Elizabeth" portrays him being set up for a crime he did not do (so we're told), and the four songs in Act Two show our hero holding on to the hope of his love to give him strength. Act Three is his Job phase, wandering and fighting, and desperately trying to believe during his despair.
In Act Four, he finds out that she has moved on with her life, and grieving over what his life has become. We're left wondering what may become of him, and what he will ultimately do to cope with everything he has lost.
Desert Life has a flow to it that works very well in terms of story, and also in that the music reflects perfectly the mood of each chapter. Given the rarity of true concept records in Christian circles, it is easy for me to say that Desert Life is the best I've heard since the Rich Mullins/Mitch McVicker project Canticle of the Plains. This is a project that Allen should attempt to expand into a stage production.
Brian A. Smith