As I listened to American Idol winner Caleb Johnson's debut album Testify, three "R"s came to mind: raw, rugged and rock 'n' roll. In fact, Johnson, who co-wrote most of the material, frequently uses the word "raw" to describe tracks on the album.
One of the most strikingly raw tracks is "Only One," which explores the turbulent relationship between a couple whose love survives fighting and turmoil. In the same vein, "Fighting Gravity" is about battling to stay in a relationship that's on the rocks. Although the production is simple and scaled down, with just a piano and Johnson's husky voice, it is a very passionate track.
The intense title track, heavy on percussion, blends gospel, soul, rock and blues and sets the tone for the entire album.
"Save Me" is a guitar-driven track Johnson describes as "almost like a religious experience-type song."
A particularly danceable number is "Let Me In," which Johnson compares to dance songs of the 1960's. The track has a classic rock feel to it.
The introspective ballad "Change" tells the story of a guy who regrets mistreating his girlfriend and expresses his willingness to change to get her back.
"Another Life" is the closest Johnson comes to contemporary pop on the album. The song seems a little out of place among the edgier rock pieces, but it has a clean, quick, sharp beat, and it's a good change of pace. With lighthearted camp appeal, "As Long as You Love Me" and the fun, catchy, opening track, "Sailing Away," have a slight pop feel to them.
The sexiest and raunchiest track on the album is the provocatively titled "Devil's Daughter." A true example of rock 'n' roll, it's a wild, unvarnished song that's great for the dance floor.
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