Eager

eager 
Artist: eager 
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 

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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 
  

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