Lincoln Brewster “Oxygen” Album Review
When Worship Music Meets a Dance Beat
Although Oxygen is certainly not an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) album by any means, and in fact I’d say it only flirts with the genre on a few tracks, there are some clubbable beats that are noticeable enough to warrant a mention in this review.
The opening track, “Live to Praise You,” has a celebratory dance feel, though the guitar riffs combined with the dance beat remind me more of the dance pop feel of early Newsboys than a pure EDM formula.
Tracks 2 (“Oxygen”) and 3 (“Made New”) move closer to the EDM pop sound that dominates secular radio, complete with the requisite break where the beat diminishes as synth sounds swirl around the vocals until it breaks into a strong dance chorus, as heard in “Made New.”
What makes these tracks a little different than your standard EDM-flavored pop is Lincoln’s tasteful, jaw-dropping guitar licks. Lincoln is certainly one of the best (if not the best) guitarists in the CCM world. I often wonder if he grew up listening to the true guitar legends like Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, or Steve Vai — or all three (in their G3 touring format).
And, by the way, has anybody ever suggested to Lincoln the idea of releasing an instrumental guitar album along the lines of Satriani, Johnson, or Vai? I love instrumental guitar playing, and it can be spiritually edifying if the album’s cover art and song titles have a Christ-focused theme that move the listener’s mind in that direction — or if the songs include melodic quotations of well-known hymns or something.
Just a thought, Lincoln.
After the album dips its toes into a few head-bobbing dance beats, it moves into a mix of hand-swinging stadium anthems, equal parts pop and rock, depending on the song. The power anthem “There Is Power” is a good representative track of where the rest of the album goes. And it does pack a powerful punch in its songwriting. I predict that “There Is Power” will be a crowd favorite in live settings.
I wish, however, that “There Is Power” (and a few others) would not include the requisite “Whoa-oh-ohhhs” in the background vocals that are apparently mandatory to have in all songs recorded in the Christian music industry right now. A couple artists in the secular industry started that trend a couple years ago. Apparently Christian producers thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread, and now everyone and their sound guy is doing it. I personally think the “Oh” non-language singing/chanting is beginning to get a little old. But that’s just me.
I already mentioned this once, but the more I listen to this album the more I think of the Peter Furler Newsboys era. I really think there’s a strong similarity there, and that can be a useful measure. In other words, if you were a fan of Newsboys, especially their early albums, you will likely enjoy this album. If Peter Furler releases another album in the near future, he and Lincoln should tour together.
And all of it, whether it’s the hint of dance music or the pop/rock anthems, is punctuated by Brewster’s worshipful lyrics and his virtuosic, fret-burning guitar work. I’d say it’s that wild guitar playing, stuff that would make Joe Satriani proud, that caught me by surprise the most. You usually don’t hear that kind of guitar playing in between the giant melodic hooks of pop/worship anthems.
Bottom-line? If you like a heavy commercial pop sound crowned with worship lyrics, big melodic hooks, a few dance beats, and some virtuosic, tasteful rock guitar solos, then Oxygen should fit the bill pretty well.