Think God
(Cleanest Dirty Shirt, 2010)

Tyler Burba, the lead vocalist/guitarist/pianist/frontrunner of Visit, describes Think God as a record of "existential hymns." With song titles such as "Cruel God," "Born to Cry," "I Don't Want to Die," "It Won't Die" and "I Hope There's a Heaven," it's certainly a heady mix of philosophical and religious quandaries.

Despite the superficially serious overtones and interstitial religious commentary, Think God actually has a fun quality to it. "I'm Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" runs both ways; in one manner it's a morose look at mortality, but from another viewpoint, it could be playfully mocking that very practice. There's an untitled bonus track that is a hoot, even if it's sure to upset most every world religion. I imagine that's part of the fun, as Burba lists who won't be sitting on the eternal throne -- a lengthy list that includes Buddha AND Baptists.

The track "Forever" is the best example of a fun existential hymn, especially when you factor in that the subject matter is the end of Death. Burba's vocals are a strong, deep, grounding presence, but the carnival-esque tune has a slightly off-putting tone. It makes you pay attention when he switches to a spoken-word interlude, but you really pay attention when a creepy and surreal chorus of children start singing about Death dying. It's a playful approach to a serious subject, seemingly self-aware.

Stylistically, there's an intentionally obvious and strong influence by the American pantheon of folk-type musicians, such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. The influence is prevalent throughout, from the song titles ("Horses in the Sky" and "I'm Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone") to the pacing to Burba's vocal drawl. This album isn't derivative of those artists -- the album stands on its own merits -- but that inspiration is certainly present.

The self-proclaimed existential qualities of this album does offer opportunities for deep examination, but the stylistic approach allows a general accessibility. Think God has a good sound on the surface with deeper possibilities, if you want.

music review by
C. Nathan Coyle

18 May 2013

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