Blink 
Artist: Rick Elias 
Label: Alarma Records/ICC Music (UK)  

Rick Elias's skills have been much in demand recently -- he wrote and recorded several of the songs on the soundtrack of Tom Hanks's That Thing You Do and produced, among others, Split Level's acclaimed new release glo.bal. Rick describes this album as "a collection of 'demos' of varying quality," and it is an interesting snapshot of his current focus as a solo musician. 

The instrumental duties are mainly handled by Rick himself with some assistance from his wife, Linda, Phil Madeira, Scott Rogness, Bob Sale, and Reggie Hamm. Rick is primarily a guitarist, and the guitar is the main instrument on this record although it is joined by bass, drums, Hammond organ, and harmonica. The guitar tones are mainly fairly simple but effective.  There is some use of distortion, but not much, and while there is some use made of guitar solos, the main emphasis is on the songs. 

The music is best described as plain rock and roll -- there are signs of roots influences and also a nod of the head towards the work Rick did for That Thing You Do. But, the album still retains a contemporary edge.  

The lyrics are extremely honest and well focused, Rick is obviously a well thought-through person, and his intelligent approach to the Christian life shows here. The second track, 'God Inc.,' is an interesting example of Rick's approach - it appears to be the story of a Christian businessman who loses track of his priorities -- Rick has admitted in interviews that this song is at least partly autobiographical.  

    Well ain't life grand 
    When you hold all the aces 
    And there ain't no time for those friends and places 
    That you once knew 
    But you outgrew 
    Add a pinch of ambition 
    And a little dash of power 
    Mix it up with opportunity 
    And there you are
Musically this track has a loose feel which fits it well -- the guitar work is very appropriate and there is some well placed accordion and Hammond work from Phil Madeira.  

A more acoustic track is 'Man Of No Reputation,' a track that takes a poignant look at Jesus. The track is musically composed of just Rick's vocals, an acoustic guitar, and a harmonica and it has a gritty beauty to it. 

    It was said this man 
    Was of no reputation 
    Yet he could stop 
    A rising storm 
    With a gesture of his hand 
    But he chose to use 
    His hands to heal 
    Hearts of darkness 
    Hearts of stone 
    Just like mine 
    Would be revealed
There are a number of strong tracks here, and there are no really weak tracks. But, I still feel that there is better to come, and that this album isn't quite the classic that Rick Elias is capable of.  

One point worth noting is that the US version of this album contains one song, 'Pilgrims,' which isn't included on the European version that I have. When I heard the origin of this album I wasn't expecting very strong production. I was wrong -- it manages to sound well-produced and yet retain some of the rawness of its demo origins. 

By James Stewart 

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The songs of Blink were never meant to be shared.  After being burned twice by tepid response to his recordings, Rick Elias worked behind-the-scenes in Christian music to support his family as a producer, writer, and side-man.  Over the years, late at night, he'd create a little, just for himself. The result is a series of songs that might find a home in the roots rock or alternative country genres, or with any respectable group of singer/songwriters that aren't afraid of electric guitars. A rich bed of keyboard chords and Phil Madeira 's loopy concertina, a host of guitars and backup singers subtly support Elias's world-weary, world-wise tenor crooning. This album returns to the grittiness of the first one, Rick Elias and the Confessions, but it's a more intentional, well-produced, carefully controlled grittiness, using the stronger production evident on his second album, Ten Confessions, to better effect. Like 6'4" Elias himself, Blink is an angular, ungainly collection of unpredictable numbers, very likeable despite their rough edges.-----Linda T. Stonehocker 

 
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