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Re-enter The Fray



Coloradans are proud of the home-grown band The Fray’s success. A part of those who report on the local scene want to root for the home team – we like it when local bands take off so we can say “we wrote about them when.”  What’s really at stake now for The Fray, as with any artist embarking on their sophomore effort, is whether their platinum debut How to Save a Life was the first chapter to a long musical career, or the climax, leading to 20 years of falling action, playing the same two hits for the next 20 years in low-rent bars.

The good news is, there are plenty of songs of the caliber of “How to Save a Life” and “Over My Head (Cable Car)”, particularly since their first single from the self-titled follow up, “You Found Me”, has gotten the same kind of high-profile promotion as “How to Save a Life” did by getting aired inside an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in 2006; “You Found Me” gets a prime time world premiere in a new video for the next season of Lost.

“The Syndicate” has the kind of piano-pop and whispery, yearning vocals of front man Isaac Slade that propelled them to fame. “Enough for Now” also manages some of their soaring, life-affirming melancholy that touches the heart strings without making you suicidal.

Some have complained about the nice-guy next door vocals and possibly Christian lyrics, but it is The Fray’s willingness not to be “edgy” that gives them their edge. Only a rebel would dare to be spiritual and earnest in a business built on exploiting bad-boy rebellion. It’s also about time that musical artists who happen to be Christian can sing honestly without being labeled “Christian”. Christian artists where their faith on their sleeve; the message is the music’s purpose, the goal is not to entertain but to win converts by trying to be as “cool” as mainstream bands.

Slade is married, as is the band’s co-founder Joe King. The two met at Faith Christian Academy, but any soft references to their faith never come off as anything more than honest expressions of their inner-being, where all good lyrics come from.

The problem is that there is nothing here beyond their standard formula. It is no small thing to capture the magic of their first album, but The Fray fails to break any new ground. It is as good as the last album, which is to say, it’s just more of the same. Of the ten tracks, only “We Build Then We Break” manages to surprise. With “The Fray”, they have not established themselves as a band that will stick around, but they have earned another try.


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