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Recordings: Allison Stewart reviews the new TobyMac album, 'Tonight'

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

TobyMac

TONIGHT

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If Christian rock were like actual rock, TobyMac would be Chris Daughtry. A former member of celebrated trio DC Talk and now a solo star in his own right, he's one of the few Christian rock artists a secularist might have actually heard of.

"Tonight," TobyMac's awkward, endearing new disc, wants to be everything to everyone: It's a jumble of Auto-Tuned faux alt-rock ("Tonight"), kiddie rap ("Loud N Clear," which features an appearance from half-pint MC/TobyMac offspring TruDog '10), choppy funk rock ("Changed Forever") and even reggae ("Break Open the Sky").

Christian rock used to be justifiably notorious for its insularity and cheesiness, but after the crossover success of bands like Evanescence and Switchfoot, audiences are savvier than they used to be. They probably realize by now that TobyMac makes for the world's least convincing hipster, and that tracks like the Black Eyed Peas-evoking "Funky Jesus Music," with its basketball metaphors and baffling "Jesus blazer" references, just make things worse.

TobyMac is a gifted melodicist -- there may be no contemporary Christian rocker better at writing hooks -- but an inconsistent stylist. "Tonight" is less an album than a collection of clashing genres that adults think "the kids" are into. The less-adorned tracks (like the hook-a-minute "Get Back Up") can be, well, heavenly; the gimmicky ones, like the funk-ish "ShowStopper," on which TobyMac unconvincingly sing-raps ("You came to ride the highs of this junk/Baby, we came to guarantee the big krunk") are wince-inducing.

-- Allison Stewart

Recommended tracks: "City on Our Knees," "Get Back Up"


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