On their 2001 debut album, Much, Ten Shekel Shirt sang folk-infused worship songs and scored a runaway hit with their song “Ocean.” The band takes a Risk on their aptly-titled sophomore effort by moving away, at least partially, from worship music, and creating a disc filled with introspection, emotion and a little bit of humor.

The music of Ten Shekel Shirt is pure roots-rock. While the band’s sound fits comfortably with the likes of The Wallflowers, The Gin Blossoms and Smalltown Poets, it does suffer the genre’s main short-coming: The staple mid-tempo rock songs begin to sound the same by the end of the album, especially when combined with the limited range of earthy, Bob Dylan inspired vocals.

Refreshingly, Ten Shekel Shirt does strive for some musical variety. They dabble in alternative rock on the song “This Story.” The track is a humorous tale about arriving late to a movie and trying to follow the plot.

On the ballad “February,” vocalist Lambert Hiebert wrestles with the death of his mom. Following the line, “Mom I just want to hear you sing. Play the Grand for me,” the band adds one of the most haunting piano solos you’ll ever hear. It’s as though Mom has joined her son for one last song.

They haven’t left worship music completely, though. The obvious follow-up to “Ocean” is “Poorest King,” a tender song of submission to God.

Though Ten Shekel Shirt is obviously still exploring their vision and sound, this new project is worth the risk.

Copyright © 2004 Christian Music Planet, used with permission.

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