Driving Reign Hold On,reviewed in Phantom TollboothDriving Reign offer a blues-based collection that features a power-ballad vocal.

Label:     independent (www.drivingreign.com)
Time:     11 tracks / 49 minutes

Steve and Tina Cianci’s band have been playing the Christian circuit for a decade, often with the likes of Billy Graham Crusades and Benny Hinn. Their songs cover typical Christian themes, like the cross and our relationship with God.

This second release features Tina’s power-ballad vocals and how you enjoy the album will depend a lot on how you like her pure and earnest sound, as the mix puts her way out front, with the guitars peeping out from behind. She sings well (and try YouTube to see how brilliantly she keeps the purity of her notes live), but almost too well. Her long, sustained notes and the control in her performance sit a little uneasily on CD with a blues-based outfit.

Both guitarists, Steve Cianci and Dee Elloianm, use a chunky tone that is just right for this genre and each can take a solo.

The outstanding track is “Grace Like Rain,” the Todd Agnew version of “Amazing Grace.” It works partly because of its stronger melody, which lets Tina build from a quieter base. Close behind is “Faith and Grace,” which adds a distinct gospel edge to their sound.

Also welcome are the title track; album closer “Free,” which leaves a pleasant taste and displays more variety in the singing; and “Studio B Blues,” an instrumental that provides a sorbet-like break from the vocal tracks.

This is another of those albums that have been made so cleanly in the studio, with a pristine sound, that the listener could feel a little cheated of the extra grit and pace that some live performances might generate.

If you are as fond of power ballads as you are of blues, then this release might have your ideal combination, but blues purists are likely to find it a little clinical.


Derek Walker