The number of Southern Christian rock bands is few and far between. You have NEEDTOBREATHE, Decemberadio, Third Day, and at times MercyMe, but the Rhett Walker Band arrives on the scene with their debut Come to the River that meets that unpopular genre of music.
Besides being a ten-track album of great Southern rock tunes, Come to the River also tells of Rhett Walker’s testimony. Like many today, Rhett grew up in the church. As a preacher’s son, he knew God and even played in the church worship band, but he left the church for his own desires when he was 16. By 17, he had been expelled from school and he and his girlfriend already had a child. These unexpected results of his bad decisions left Rhett looking back to Jesus for grace and forgiveness. That is the story of the Come to the River album, fronted by the album’s single “When Mercy Found Me.”
Rhett Walker has a great country voice as well. It’s most evident through the opening track, “Gonna Be Alright,” in which he and his band remind the listener that, while the circumstances may be certain, God’s faithfulness is even more certain: “This I know, that this world is leaving me dry/ and I know, this I know, that with You it’s gonna be alright.” The title track follows with rapid acoustic guitar strumming, though it is not really an upbeat track in and of itself. The track borrows lyrics from the end of the book of Revelation, reminding the listener that we can “drink from the cup I [Jesus] pour and thirst no more.” It’s a great reminder of where our rest comes from.
“Make Me New,” more strong, is a prayer for God to clean us up. I loved how Rhett’s vocals were appropriately very strong and sure in this tune. The single “When Mercy Found Me,” a powerful retelling of Rhett’s testimony, follows very nicely. Not only is it the most radio-friendly track off the album, it’s also a generic song that any Christian can sing in honor of the freedom with which Christ has set us all free. In addition, the lead guitar and stunning lyrics of the chorus are very powerful: “And in one moment everything changed/ who I was got washed away when mercy found me/ My Savior’s arms were open wide and I felt love for the very first time/ when mercy found me…”
More upbeat, the excellent “Get Up, Get Out” speaks of jumping out of the status quo, while the simple “All I Need” is nicely piano-based and slows back down to the worshipful side, as with the single. But it is definitely not mundane, as it states: “The rain keeps falling down as the waters flood this town/ on my knees I’ll be found/ All I need, all I need is You.”
Featuring David Leonard from All Sons and Daughters, “Brother” has a NEEDTOBREATHE sentiment to it, speaking to someone who tries to hold everything together: “Brother, don’t you know no one’s too high to fall/ no one’s strong enough to make their own way…” Though it’s on the slower side of things, the nice duet and acoustic guitar backing makes it one of my personal favorites off the Come to the River album.
“Can’t Break Me” is an adrenaline-packed dare for Satan to attack us and see what we are made of, while “Vessel” has a little bit of a pop feel to it and is God speaking over His children, reminding us that we belong to Him no matter what storms life throws our way. This particular track has excellent lead guitar work, so this pair of tracks has an older Third Day sentiment. The Come to the River album closes with “Singing Stone,” a peaceful duet with Leslie Jordan from All Sons and Daughters. The breath-taking lyrics remind the listener that, even though we may be a thousand miles from the throne of God, He still “gives life and breath to a singing stone.” It is a very soothing and beautiful closing.
There are several things I love about Rhett Walker Band. For one, they arrive at the Christian music scene delivering a fresh type of rock, namely Southern rock; but secondly, they have combined that Southern rock with a powerful message of the free gift of God’s grace that meets us when we’re broken. Come to the River is a really refreshing album! Even if you’re not huge on Southern rock, I suggest you check it out if you’re looking for something different; and I definitely recommend this album to fans of Decemberadio, NEEDTOBREATHE, and Third Day, especially!
Release date: July 10, 2012
1. Gonna Be Alright
2. Come to the River
3. Make Me New
4. When Mercy Found Me
5. Get Up Get Out
6. All I Need
8. Can’t Break Me
10. Singing Stone