Sounds like … the alternative folk-pop side of Over the Rhine, Eastmountainsouth, Nickel Creek, and the Innocence Mission.
At a glance … understated, pleasant, and often beautiful, Subjects is a delightful debut from this promising sibling duo.
It's not often that artists get a second shot a releasing the same album. In a reverse crossover of sorts, Judd & Maggie's debut Subjects is a bit of an exception, as the album is now being reintroduced to the Christian market. The disc was originally issued in mainstream circles by RCA Victor in August of 2005, and thanks to the label's ties to Provident Label Group—both of which operate under the Sony-BMG umbrella—the album's now out … again.
The sibling duo isn't totally unknown to the Christian scene, having toured with Derek Webb and his wife Sandra McCracken in the past. But unlike their touring partners, they're not socio-religious agitators, remaining passionate about the gospel message in their own quiet, contemplative sort of way. For them, the truth is simply a lens through which everything else—romance, relationships, self, everyday life—comes into focus, and when it does, it makes for a spiritual experience like no other. For instance, "Sponge" is an honest and creative song of devotion to Christ, while "Sleeper" uses Ephesians 5:14 to warn again religious complacency.
The duo's style leans toward the folk side of the musical spectrum, with enough splashes of alternative and pop motifs to add accessibility to their method. Not surprisingly, Judd & Maggie's strongest suit as a brother-sister tag team is their harmonies, which crisscross and overlap each other neatly with taut precision. Neither is a powerhouse vocalist, which is ideal for their lovely melodies and faith-based imagery to rise to the forefront. It's an exercise in balance where everything—from instrumentation and arrangements to song ideas, delivery and poetry—is in its right place, making Subjects one of the coolest, calmest, most collected debuts of the year.
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