Like glimpsing the ghost of a long-lost friend, Mitch McVicker's solo
debut spooks us for its likeness to the late Rich Mullins, as much as
we welcome the apparition.
Indeed, despite his tragic death one month into production, Mullins'
fingerprint is all over this album. In addition to a co-production
credit, Mullins co-wrote three of the songs with McVicker, including
the Gospel Music Association's 1998 Song of the Year, "My
McVicker's self-penned songs bear Mullins' melodic stamp; more
haunting, still, is his vocal resemblance to Mullins, especially on
songs like the opening track, "Here & Now," and heart-wrenching
"Only Love Will."
While such comparisons would raise a cautionary "uh-oh" applied to
any other artist, in McVicker's case, they are genuine assets.
McVicker's artistry may resemble that of Mullins, but this is no mere
parroting -- indeed, one senses Mullins may have found in McVicker
a musical soul mate. The two were true collaborators: They
co-wrote a musical, performed together, and, in fact, nearly died
together. (McVicker was with Mullins in the car accident which
claimed the latter's life and left McVicker severely injured.)
With this in mind, it's difficult to hear Mitch McVicker and not also
find the ghost of Rich Mullins. That may hamper McVicker as he
tries to carve out an identity separate from his late, great friend
and mentor. Others may choose to see it for what it is: the student
carrying on after the death of his teacher.
McVicker does occasionally rock a little harder than Mullins
(especially on "Freedom" and "Hope"), but when he gets mellow, it's
with an oh-so-familiar lyrical honesty (as on "She Asked Me How")
and melodic twist that captures the heart.
As a listener, one can't help but embrace the music and be thankful
that there is someone to fill Mullins' shoes.