Label: Questar/Mission Records
Eager includes Patrick Andrew, formerly of the band PFR, a popular
and successful band in CCM accruing dove awards and other rock acclaim.
As the band PFR was coming to an end in 1995, Patrick Andrew heard
a solo effort by Greg Pope and added Pope to the lineup for PFR's "Farewell"
tour to play guitar and sing some backing vocals. At that time, the two
began to write songs and plan ahead to the day when they could begin recording
as eager. In the meantime, they found Paul Eckberg to keep the beat and
later brought on Mark Kloos, a friend of Greg's from his Raleigh, NC, days.
Although Patrick Andrew seems to be getting the headlines and the attention
due to the popularity of his former band, eager is a group effort and Andrew
and Pope share the songwriting duties equally, to the point that eager's
debut album contains five songs by Patrick, five songs by Pope, and one
song they co-wrote.
Like PFR, the eager sound has Badfinger and the Beatles as its main
influences. Serious Beatle fans may remember that after the Beatles
broke up, there was a band called Klaatu that sounded like the Beatles
on purpose. Some folks thought that Klaatu was the Beatles, but obviously
they were not, since their songs didn't have the depth or the creativity
of the Beatles. Eager reminds me of Klaatu: the music is rock and roll
but lacks the meaning and depth to put it in the spotlight.
The music varies a lot in style. The record kicks off with a spooky
4/4 rocker called "Touch." Amid the proper amount of fuzz and strings,
Patrick's nasal vocal works well in singing about spiritual oppression
and the feeling of not being able to "touch what touches me." There
are two Greg Pope songs toward the end of the album, "Draw Me Back" and
"The Hand That Can." The former is a bouncing march with an
extended seventies guitar break at the end; the latter is a tame Crazy
Horse-style southern rocker. The last song on the album is "Million Dollars,"
co-written by Andrew and Pope. It starts out with U2 type feedback, breaking
out into power chords and, unfortunately, a cheesy megaphone vocal by Andrew.
The guitar break here is more of a sixties thing, and the song ends with
the obligatory rock feedback.
The first single off of the new cd is "Crimson for Downy Flake"
by Greg Pope, a medium rocker; simple and straight once again about the
trade of our sin for Christ's righteousness. Greg does have a nice voice,
and this song is typical for him in that he is a quite capable tunesmith.
One weakness in the songwriting is the way the words and music don't
mesh. "Look at Mary" is a song that should have been a wild saber-toothed
tiger, played with recklonss abandon; what we get instead is a controlled,
nearly toothless cat. "Found Out" is a particularly inane acoustic song
with lots of strings and winding melodies. It's a sweet little ditty about
sin governing one's life and then being found out. The mix of serious subject
matter and a light floating tune doesn't sit well with me.
The main problem I have with this record is that the songs and lyrics
are too juvenile. Some of the tunes are catchy and quite hummable but too
shallow for most adult listeners. In the middle of all the Beatle-esque
songs is "Don't Let Go," a whiny rock ballad full of sophomoric verse about
how we fail to hold on to God even though he always holds on to us.
It's a prayer asking God to not let go; there are many well-written songs
on this topic, but this song is not one of them.
Eager comes across as an affable, genuine, musical, rock band. Most
of this album is simple, straight music that sounds like it came from ten,
or so, years ago when these guys were probably in high school. This may
turn out to be a big record in the high school age set, as that seems to
me to be the level of the writing here. They lack the depth and originality
to justify the hype growing around them. The record is not grating
at all, but it's not that affecting either. I did start to enjoy
this record more with repeated listenings, but not enough to recommend
it to everyone except for fans of Petra and PFR.
Eager is four men from around the country who have moved to Nashville
and joined the ranks of the Nashvegas show bands. Right now they
would be a fine opening band. They have some growing to do before
they become a headliner.
By:Tony La Fianza
Yes, PFR fans will be at home here! Patrick
Andrews has returned with a new group called eager which includes Greg
Pope (guitar), Mark Kloos (guitar), and Paul Eckberg (drums) with Andrews
playing bass. Both Patrick and Greg share the lead vocals and songwriting.
The album was produced by Jimmie Lee Sloas who also produced PFR. Eager
is a little rockier, but the Beatlesque harmonies are still there on "Unspoken,"
"Don't Let Go," and "Look at Mary," to name a few. In addition, there's
a progressive rock feel to the album that made me take notice. "Blame"
is even reminiscent of an old Yes tune.
This album should enable eager to attract existing
PFR fans, while expanding to a new audience
with its harder edge and progressive rock tendencies.
It took me a few listens to really start to appreciate the variety
on this release. The lyrics didn't do much for me, however. They
aren't bad, but they don't grab your mind the way I like them to.
Buy it for the music. --Shari Lloyd