Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
Satisfied by Decemberadio
"Satisfied is solid, southern tinged rock all the way through."
It’s been slightly over two years since DecembeRadio dropped their self-titled debut CD, and with the success of that first CD, D-radio has built a strong fan base, earned critical acclaim both for the CD and for their live show, and earned a Dove award nomination. That’s enough to propel a band to the next studio session, but with touring demands and the pressure to beat the sophomore slump, a lesser band could produce something less than stellar. However, DecembeRadio has had no trouble handling the pressure, as Satisfied is definitely no slump of a CD.
Satisfied is solid, southern tinged rock all the way through. There’s no question these rockers from Virginia have been studying the work of Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and .38 Special and have incorporated hard driving honky tonk rock into their sound. But they’ve managed to add a stroke of sophistication to each track that truly distinguishes their sound from classic southern rock. In addition to the instrumentation one would expect to hear on a rock album, D-radio has also been liberal with the use of strings and backing choirs adding musical color throughout the track listing.
Screaming guitars and a huge drum intro start the CD with first track “Better Man”. Josh Reedy’s voice is suited perfectly for this kind of song with just enough texture to make it interesting. Reedy sings with an amazing amount of control and varies dynamic levels in order to communicate well. Although the bridge of the song brings to mind an 80’s REO speed wagon song I used to slow dance to, it doesn’t interfere with the steady hard rock pace fueled by a repetitive guitar riff throughout the track.
What sounds like the needle dropping onto a vinyl record begins the next track entitled “Satisfied”. This song is HUGE. Gritty, southern, driving… any kind of adjective you could ever think of to describe a big southern rock song fits this song. It’s got everything---gospel back up choir, rock-a -billy keys, Hammond organ, big big drum beats, massive guitar solo and a rocking bass line that just doesn’t let up. And to make it even better, this song is FUN! This track is the CD’s lead-off release, and it’s going to be a massive success for the band.
One would expect that after the energy of both opening tracks D-radio might need to slow down a bit so as not to overwhelm the listener, and for a time on “Believer” it seems as if they has. Reedy’s strong vocals are showcased on the first verse accompanied only by a rolling drum beat and one repeated guitar riff. The song is a testimony, and the arrangement on the first verse allows the story to stand front and center. The energy of the song just climbs at the second verse as layers of sound are added to the mix. Lyrcially, the song is a fairly cut and tried testimony, but lines like, “I got a tattoo of an angel to remind me that I’m saved. I got hair down to my shoulders, but don’t you be afraid,” are a little awkward, and while I appreciate the sentiment it seems there may have been a more artful way to make the statement.
More melodic songs like the “For Your Glory”, “Look for Me”, “Find You Waiting” (which has tremendous country cross over potential) and “Love Can” show that DecembeRadio has depth of style and can switch gears well from huge sounds to the quieter moments needed to pace a track listing. However, sometimes the jolt from loud Southern scream to 16 piece strings is almost too much to allow for the listener to make the transition. This happens as the tracks move from “Falling for You”, a big rock anthem, to the lush “Look for Me”.
The weakest tracks on the CD are “Be Alright” and “Powerful Thing”. “Be Alright” sounds very much like a collaboration between Bon Jovi and some generic country band…a little too country pop for my taste. I’m sure it will have mass appeal but it seems like the band hit a default setting on their creativity and went for easy rather than gut wrenching sonic character when they recorded this one. “Powerful Thing” begins incredibly well . . . great Hammond organ chords set against Brian Bunn’s relentless guitar lead providing great support for Reedy’s vocals. But somehow during the bridge, the entire song seems to take on Broadway production number overtones. Huge choir sounds, soaring female counter solo, big strings, etc. give it a bigger sound than the song needed in order to be effective.
In spite of the DecembeRadio’s strong rock identity on this album, I’m inclined to believe “For Your Glory” is going to be their biggest hit from this collection. Lyrically strong, steered by a lush melody and tight harmonies and supported by soaring strings, “For Your Glory” has what it takes to be a #1 on the Christian AC chart. The irony here is that D-Radio is a strong ROCK band and really needs to push it’s raw rock appeal. While the band has the potential to light up a stage as well as Skillet currently does, if they allow themselves to be pigeonholed into AC sounds, they may find themselves playing to the same audiences who back MercyMe and Third Day Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but DRadio’s love for distorted guitars, thumping bass lines and power vocals are more in line with what younger crowds are lapping up in concert venues across the county. Don’t misunderstand what I mean. There are only hints of the AC sound on this CD. I believe Satisfied to be a very strong rock CD. I’m just hoping DecembeRadio unleashes all of their raw power throughout the next CD and doesn’t hold back. I look forward to seeing them tour this set of new songs and know they are going to leave their audiences feeling like they’ve seen the real musicianship that fuels the band.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com