Reviewed by Michael Ehret
Speak to Me by
"Moore has undergone a maturation process that has produced one of the industry's most prized 'elder statesmen'."
I did not realize how much I’d missed Geoff Moore’s voice until the first time his gruff baritone flowed out of my speakers on his newest album, Speak To Me. I first experienced Moore in 1995 when he and his band, The Distance, released the album that made them the Mercy Me of their time, Home Run.
Sure, I’d heard scattered Geoff Moore and The Distance tracks before then (“Evolution: Redefined,” “A Friend Like You,” “Life Together”), but with Home Run garnering no fewer than six hit singles, the album was pretty much everywhere that summer – and that was a great thing. Since then, I’ve followed Moore’s career, with the group and solo, with interest and appreciation.
So when the opportunity to review Speak To Me presented itself, it was a no-brainer. It had been five years since his last, A Beautiful Sound, and I was ready.
Since disbanding The Distance with his self-titled disc in 1999, Moore has undergone a maturation process that has produced one of the industry’s most prized “elder statesmen.” It’s a shame the music industry values youth over almost every other quality, because though I mean the title “elder statesmen” as a supreme compliment, some people will read that and say “more fogey folk-rock” and move on.
That would be a mistake.
Speak To Me opens with the title track written by Jim Cooper and Phillip LaRue, a soft plea for Jesus to restore a fallen believer to full life in Him:
Please restore my faith / To the place when I first met you / A fire bright and clear / Speak to me Lord Jesus / I am listening
But as the verse gives way to the chorus, the soft entreaty gives way to a bold declaration that Jesus’ words give this broken man “life and their hope keeps me alive.” As the song ends, Moore is singing, “I am waiting Lord, I am resting on my knees. I am waiting for You to speak.” What better place for a believer to be?
Moore has long had a knack for picking great cover songs. Remember The Who song “I’m Free” and the “hidden” cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Stand” on the last Distance album (Threads in 1997)?
On Speak To Me, Moore once again mines other people’s songs to great effect. His cover of Rivers Rutherford and George G. Teren III’s “When I Get Where I’m Going,” first recorded by Brad Paisley (with Dolly Parton) on his Time Well Wasted project, is the disc’s first single. Moore’s world-weary voice lends the song the depth Paisley’s version lacked. And when Christy Nockels of Watermark chimes in with Parton’s harmonies, it creates one of those goosebump moments.
Moore said the song is a reminder that, while some people can be “too heavenly minded for any earthly good,” in our society today the opposite is too often true and believers are too earthly minded to be any heavenly good. He said, “I believe living in the light of eternity will impact the way we live today. This song reminds me to do that.”
Other highlights: “He Knows My Name” with Kendall Payne, “Your Day” written with Joel Hanson, a cover of Hanson’s solo song, “Captured,” the hymn “This Is My Father’s World,” and album closer, “Erase,” a plea to be more like Jesus.
Moore does have a soft spot for “hidden” tracks. Look for another one, this time a pointless remix of “Every Single One,” a song inspired by Moore’s work with Compassion International.
Michael Ehret is a music maven who has written about music, secular and Christian, as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star newspaper, several Internet sites, and even CCM magazine. He is also the editor of the newsletter Afictionado, the e-zine of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is testing the waters with his first novel, Beyond December, while working on his second, Skipping July.