CD Review of Passion & Purpose by Alex Call & Lisa Carrie
Alex Call & Lisa Carrie: Passion & Purpose
Recommended if you like
Huey Lewis, Doobie Brothers, Christopher Cross
Label
Studer
Alex Call & Lisa Carrie:
Passion & Purpose

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

T
here’s always reason to be suspicious when an album appears to proselytize and preach a self-serving message, no matter how worthy it would appear to be on the surface. And when the music seems to mine clichés common to pop’s most radio-ready instincts, the complaints can be compounded. Consequently, this collaboration between singer/songwriter and former Clover front man Alex Call, his wife, singer Lisa Carrie, and Quint Studer, a health advocate and motivational missionary, gives cause to raise an eyebrow and dismiss it as just another cultish concept.

Fortunately, Call and Carrie are so proficient at proffering obviously palpable melodies that it’s almost possible to forget the fact they’re hawking Studer’s credo, despite the fact that Studer wrote all the lyrics and titles like "The Calling" (offered in both a ballad and "rock" version), "I Found Me," "Time to Live" and "I’m Back in the Race" find a convergence between their music and his mantra. We say "almost," because while "The Calling" could be an appropriate signature song for a guy whose surname is Call, it’s clear that he and Carrie are shilling Studer’s script. With the lyrics reflecting the dictates of Struder’s foundation – as benevolent and well-intended as the concepts may seem on the surface – there’s still some whiff of self-aggrandizing which ultimately underlines the credibility of all concerned.

Likewise, Call’s writing seems stuck in a definite time warp, a sound that brings to mind a ‘70s and ‘80s song style that emphasizes big hooks, bigger arrangements and a strong spiritual stance. Considering Call’s writing resume – he’s penned songs for Huey Lewis and the News, Pat Benatar and Tommy Tutone, for whom he wrote the irrepressible "867-5309 (Jenny)" – it’s not all that surprising. Nevertheless, the fact that they hew to certain well-worn templates – R&B ("I Can Start a Fire") stoic sentiments ("If Only" "Time to Live") pedestrian pop ("Drop Dead Gorgeous" "I’m Back in the Race" "15 Minutes of Fame") and over-the-top ballads ("If I Was Superman," "The Calling") – makes that feeling of déjà vu all the more apparent.

Ultimately, Passion & Purpose feels somewhat hollow, especially in light of the larger embrace the album title implies. Solid songcraft and well-meaning lyrics don’t necessarily result in songs of substance or ensure compelling listening. A decent album, but by no means great, Passion & Purpose would do well to up the ante on passion and make the purpose a bit less obvious.

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