Welcome to our first ever ‘first impressions’ review, which is not really an official full length review per se, but rather an early collection of succinct and insightful thoughts. While we aim to hopefully post First Impression Reviews every week, we will at least write these pieces every fortnight (because we have to take into consideration things in our lives that may unexpectedly come up, right?), in anticipation of a review of a high profile album that we will be unveiling the week after. This week, our first instalment is peering using a metaphorical microscope at TobyMac’s 6th solo album **THIS IS NOT A Test** which releases August 7th. So let’s dive in and see whether this new album is worth our while taking a listen to!
Everyone knows TobyMac right? Toby, along with Kevin Max and Michael Tait, made up the highly respected and popular on-hiatus-Christian rock band DC Talk, who were immensely popular in the 1990’s! With smash hit songs like “Colored People”, “Between You And Me”, “Jesus Freak”, “What If I Stumble” and “My Will”, many listeners, fans and critics thought and believed that the sky was the limit for the band. But dc Talk unexpectedly decided to ‘take a break’ as each lead singer wanted to pursue other interests. That was in 2000, and now it’s 15 years later. Fans are still itching for a comeback tour, album, or a full on reunion (and Toby, Kevin and Michael on countless occasions have said that something was happening in the works) but until that time when something like a reunion does happen (it will be a matter of when, not if!), let’s just simply dwell upon and marvel at the artistry and writing prowess of these individual singers. TobyMac in particular. No offence to Kevin and Michael, I do enjoy their more recent material (previously with Audio Adrenaline and now as a solo artist; and with the Newsboys respectively), but the evolution of Toby’s stage presence and as a worship leader is so profound that it has to be mentioned.
Though I guess it doesn’t have to be spelled out how much Toby has changed as a singer. If you’re a fan of dc Talk, then obviously you’re a fan of TobyMac and his Diverse City Band. The Grammy Award and Dove Award winning CCM/pop/rap artist has wowed us time and time again, and this album is no different. With such variety of musical instruments used, as well as many genres and different song choices encompassed and evident on this album (Rock on the title track, gospel and soul on “Move (Keep Walkin’) and “Love Broke Thru”, rap and hip hop at its finest on “Til The Day I Die”, an acoustic ballad in “Light Shine Bright”, straight up worship on “Undeniable” and radio friendly CCM on “Beyond Me”); I can confidently guarantee you all that **THIS IS NOT A TEST** will definitely have at least one or two songs on the album that will keep you dancing on your toes as you worship Jesus.
There’s also plenty of guest vocals here (7 songs out of the 13 original tracks are collaborations, from artists like Ryan Stevenson and NF to a highly anticipated DC Talk reunion on definite future single “Love Feels Like”), and with the deluxe edition album standing tall at 15 tracks, this album is THE must buy for August (if you only buy one album!). Which is pretty bold for me to say, as you have other albums releasing this August as well such as albums Rend Collective, Sidewalk Prophets, 7eventh Time Down, John Waller, Soulfire Revolution, Nichole Nordeman, Hillsong Worship… you get the picture- TobyMac’s new album is poised to propel him to even loftier heights than present! Anyway, I digress. Isn’t this ‘review’ supposed to be brief? So I’ll sum up.
There may never be a time when Kevin, Michael and Toby are all on the same page and decide to reunite. Despite the fans wanting this reunion for so long, each artist is well established in their respective roles and new ventures. And what has Toby’s 6th album shown me, that I can pass onto you all that you can take away as the message? Well, apart from the fact that we must like life like it’s the real thing, and not a test that we can easily rewind and have a do-over day; it’s this fact that the album sounds so refreshing and much, much more cohesive and engaging that Eye On It (and that album wasn’t bad at all, by any means!), that it’s hard to imagine that Toby is already 50 years old! And he doesn’t seem like he’s slowing down as of yet! So, I guess what the album has taught me during the countless times I have spent listening to it, is that you’re never too old or young to start chasing your dreams, and if God has put something on your heart, then I say go for it. TobyMac would to. If I was reviewing this album (the full length review, I mean, which I’m not- Jon is!), then I’d rate it at least a 4. So we’ll see. In about a week, check out our review. But in the meantime here’s some videos of songs from Toby’s new album that you can check out!
(and some more smash hit songs from his previous albums!)
Til next time when we shine to spotlight onto Rend Collective next week!
Forefront Records/Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: August 7th 2015
TobyMac– This Is Not A Test
- Like A Match
- Backseat Driver (feat. Hollyn & Tru)
- This Is Not A Test (feat. Capital Kings)
- Lights Shine Bright (feat. Hollyn)
- Til The Day I Die (feat. NF)
- Feel It (feat. Mr. TalkBox)
- Move (Keep Walkin’)
- Love Broke Thru
- Beyond Me
- Love Feels Like (feat. DCTALK)
- Lift You Up (feat. Ryan Stevenson)
- Beyond Me (PHENOMENON Remix by Soul Glow Activatur)
- Like A Match (Garcia Remix)
Favourite Tracks: Backseat Driver, Til The Day I Die, Move, Love Broke Thru, Love Feels Like, Undeniable
RIYL: Group 1 Crew, Capital Kings, dc Talk, Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline