Mitch McVicker spent the last couple years touring, writing, and occasionally living with Rich Mullins. He was the co-writer, co-conspirator and the male lead in The Canticle Of The Plains, a musical produced by Mullins. McVicker was first heard nationally on the very popular soundtrack CD for 'Canticle.' This, his debut solo release, was produced by Mullins and This Train's Mark Robertson. In fact, the day they finished tracking on this CD Mitch and Rich left Elgin IL where Robertson's studio was then located, and headed down to Wichita for a benefit concert. As you probably know, they never made it to Wichita. Rich and Mitch were in a terrible truck vs. jeep accident on a rural Illinois highway which left McVicker in a coma with massive head and body injuries, and Mullins face to face with the Awesome God he so poignantly wrote about. So needless to say, this CD is more than just another indy singer songwriter disc.
It's hard to detach from this disc personally, so I won't bother. Maybe I'll find someone else to review this who is less biased, but for now you got me and my agenda. I heard many of these tracks as they were being recorded, and occasionally a rough mix, but all put together it is far better than I expected. In the few extremely painful days after than accident we had heard that Mitch had died also, so when I look at this finished CD and see the guy sitting on the cover it still gets to me. Mitch is a survivor and this CD, although recorded entirely before the accident, is a testimony to the new life that God brings after a tragedy. Mullins saw an element in Mitch, both as an individual and as an artist, that drew him in. As he did with This Train and others, Rich invested in the new kids, the underdogs. This CD would prove to be his final work. He did a good job.
Stylistically this album is very congruent with the Canticle Of The Plains CD; Acoustic driven folk-fueled heartland pop. The production is warm and thick, and the arrangements are rural, yet still very accessible. Lyrically Mitch sounds like a Kid Brother Of St. Frank, which he is. He was obviously very inspired by Rich's lyrical style, though he had also been writing long before he met Mullins. There is a simple love of God present throughout. No pretense, no deep ponderings, just well articulated ruminations on a very lofty subject. Mullins co-wrote two of the songs, "Gospel Rain" and "New Mexico," but McVicker handled the rest himself. From the light-hearted "Lemonade Song" to the anthemic opener "Here and Now," to the longing tone of "One Of These Days," McVicker has served up heartfelt songs, vocally and lyrically.
Mitch McVicker differs in many ways from most modern folk-inflected music. There is no bitterness, no protest and very little focus on the artist's wants and needs. This is not pensive or dark, or cynical and jaded. This is an open-book look into a man's heart; a man who is in love with Jesus. Besides all the connections and contributions to famous people, this is a record a lot of people need to hear.