Carman "No Plan B" Album Review

(Photo : Carman)

Prime Cuts: I'm Coming Home, Peace of the Lord, Jesus Heal Me

Faith doesn't exempt from the claws of life's tragic prowls.  Rather, what faith does is that it offers us the joy of knowing that regardless of what happens to us we are under the garrison of God.  And with such divine protection, we don't need plan B.  This is the gist of Carman's first full length studio album since 2007's "Instrument of Praise."  To date, Carman is a genre by himself.  Defying categorization, Carman has patented himself with his style of over-the-top dramatic "sermon" songs.  As a result, he has captured the imagination of millions of fans since the late 70s, selling 15 gold or platinum sales, netting over 10 million records sold.  To this day, Carman is the only contemporary Christian artist to be able to attract almost 80,000 attendees to a single concert.  

Despite slowing down his schedule of album releases by the turn of the Millennium, Carman has still maintained a presence in the music scene.  Early last year, a greatest hits collection with one brand new song aptly titled "Anthems of a Champion" was released to re-introduce him to a younger audience.  And to give his career an added push, last year Carman was diagnosed with myeloma. Instead of retreating into despair, Carman has decided to exit with a loud bang when he launched one of Kickstarter's biggest campaign where he raised over half a million dollars to make this brand new record.  "No Plan B" is no sob story: instead of wallowing in self-pity, this new record is celebratory of the Gospel with Jesus fixated at the record's cynosure. 

The title cut and lead single "No Plan B" has everything fans have had loved about Carman.  Funky, bold, horn-filled over lyrics that stand toe-to-toe with the song's enormous sound, Carman offers no apology for the Gospel which he has had been proclaiming all these years.  For a man who has been to the throes of death and yet still be able to profess such faith in Jesus is worth the price of this CD itself.  With similar conviction the anthemic "Yes Yes" gives a double affirmation that Carman is never reticent about his faith in Jesus Christ.  Never one to shy away from gilded drama, "Peace of the Lord" incorporates the sounds of a passing storm as a way of underlining the Biblical notion that we (as Christians) can have peace even in the midst of the most severe tempest.

Most autobiographical and the album's centerpiece is "Jesus Heal Me."  Drawing the song's seed thought from Isaiah 53, "Jesus Heal Me" is a worshipful prayer that is sung with so much passion that it is almost palatable. Making no currency for today's derivative sounds, "I'm Coming Home" is a 90s sounding synth-driven ballad that boast a big crescendo that is almost extinct today.  Being first and foremost an evangelist before being considered a singer, Carman knows that stories are indispensable to great preaching.  In line with his many "story songs" is "God Made Man." Utilizing his Italian heritage to his advantage, "God Made Man" sounds like the soundtrack to the "Godfather," with the mariachi-styled accordion.  Here Carman narrates how a "cute little cupcake" evangelizes to group of men at the corner of the Caparelli's Deli.  

Yet, not all works: "The Flag" (which was also found in last year's "Anthems of a Champion") is one of those patriotic flag waving songs that you either hate or loathe.  And in an album that lifts high the Cross and the Gospel, the acoustic guitar-driven "I Did My Best" has an Arian slant that doesn't sit as comfortably as the rest of the songs.  Nevertheless, "No Plan B" is prided on the fact that it is unapologetic as far as Jesus and the Gospel is concerned.  Further, never one to prostitute himself to today's trends, Carman has remained true to his own sound on this record. Thus, if you have loved Carman's signature sound you will not disappointed.

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