Mark Roach - Beautiful Truth as reviewed by the Phantom Tollbooth. Former Myrrh signee ventures out into indie waters.
6 Tracks (28:30)

The streets of Nashville, Tennessee, are veritably bursting at the seams with intrepid singers and songwriters, each tirelessly laboring to secure their particular niche in the Christian music business. The truth of the matter, of course, is that, for every performer who actually winds up inking that ever-elusive record deal, there are tens, if not hundreds, of others who never get the opportunity and inevitably wind up leaving the Music City in search of alternate career opportunities, oftentimes outside the music industry altogether.

Missouri native Mark Roach, like so many other of his peers, was a worship leader before making the trek to Nashville. Unlike so many of those same peers, though, Roach was actually fortunate enough to sign with CCM mainstay Myrrh Records and release his debut effort. The album, 2007's Every Reason Why, did less than stellar business, however, and Roach soon decided that Nashville was a poor fit for him and returned to his hometown of St. Louis.

In light of his position as head of the worship arts ministry at Morning Star Church, the largest United Methodist congregation in Missouri, it comes as little surprise that his freshman outing as an independent artist follows a decidedly praise-oriented path. Polished, mid-tempo pop/worship cuts like "Glory Hallelujah" and "Here with You" fit firmly within the now-familiar template laid out by artists like Chris Tomlin, Aaron Shust and Casting Crowns. Tracks like "Every Reason Why" and "Transformed," while certainly not hard rock, are of a decidedly more energetic ilk, landing alongside the buoyant pop/rock favored by artists like Sanctus Real, Big Daddy Weave and Building 429.

Most of what appears on Truth has been done many times before. That said, Roach's talent is undeniably ample and he arguably purveys his particular combination of styles as well as those with whom he seems most likely to be compared. The faster songs are, on average, a bit more engaging than the slower material. Virtually all of the cuts on the album, however, stand up fairly well in their own right and might, ironically, do very well on Christian Hit Radio, despite Roach's current non-label-affiliated status. Ironically enough, it would appear that his exit from the Nashville scene not only seems to have done little to dim his enthusiasm for music-making, it also may wind up being the very thing that finally gets him noticed by the powers that be who still call the shots there.

Bert Gangl


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