Plus One first appeared in 2000 as Christian music’s answer to boy bands. The group consisted of five good looking teenage boys, who sang wholesome, yet catchy, pop songs and ballads.
Their debut album, The Promise, was released quickly, obviously to ride on the waves of the boy band craze. Like the case of many new artists that are being used to cash in on a craze (see Mandy Moore’s debut, So Real), the boys of Plus One had very little input on the album’s material and because of the rush to get it released, the songs are poorly written and produced. Though the members of Plus One (Gabe Combs, Nathan Walters, Nate Cole, Jeremy Mhire, Jason Perry) do have some vocal talent, it’s hard to tell over the cheap synthesizers and karaoke-sounding background music that’s in almost every song.
The album starts off with Written On My Heart, which sounds similar to an old *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys song. The song is about realizing that God is always with you, though lyrics like, “Now I know right from the start/Your love was written on my heart” are a bit bland. The production here is terrible; the music is loud and cheesy and the even the boy’s voices (especially Jason’s) sound bad because of the cheap production.
The album redeems itself a bit with God Is In This Place, a Latin-flavored track. I’ve always been a fan of this song, but mostly because of the music. Again, the lyrics aren’t too original, but the boys do sound nice as they reassure us that God is always by our side (which happens to be a reoccurring theme throughout the album).
We reach the first of many ballads with the title track. The Promise is a slow, albeit pretty, song about how God promises that He’ll never leave us alone. Though the lyrics are generic, I’ll admit that I do like the sentiment behind the song. I Will Rescue You is the next ballad on the album, though this time it’s about helping out a friend that’s in need. The song is musically boring, and the lyrics are just plain bad (“Whenever you’re lost and confused/Like a fairy tale come true/I will rescue you”).
My Life is an upbeat song about living your life ‘right’. Lyrically, the song is a mess. It starts off rocky, and it seems like the songwriter was just trying to find phrases that rhymed instead of writing a song that made actual sense. The second verse is a lot better at being direct (“I was a mess/But that was all before I told Him yes/Now it’s all good/Cause everyone in His will is blessed”), but all in all, the message gets drowned out with the annoying “YEAHS!” that are cheered throughout the choruses.
The strongest song on the album is Soul Tatoo, which was unfortunately, never released as a single. The song starts off with acoustic guitar, and never strays too far from it; the production is stripped down, leaving more room to focus on the lyrics and vocals. The song is very simple and humble, but it works well. This time, the guys are conveying the message that once God stamps His love on us, He’ll never take it away. Lyrics like (“You’re the rhythm to my heart/When it beats out of time/I’m so thankful, Lord/That You are mine…”) aren’t anything special, but it gets the point across.
When Your Spirit Gets Weak is a gospel inspired track, and another song that I like. The lyrics are a bit more interesting here; the verses are mostly about the human spirit and how we’re so easy to go to God when we’re in need, but the verses are also encouraging in saying that you have your friends and God to be there for you when you need someone to lean on. A gospel choir accompanies the boys towards the end, which is a nice touch.
The rest of the album basically relies on ballads, (and I wasn’t lying earlier when I said the album was very ballad-heavy; seven out of the twelve songs are ballads!) including Be and Here In My Heart. Again, both of these songs aren’t very memorable, though the harmonies are nice. Be, might be the best out of the two, but just because it sounds good musically. The song is pretty simple; just a vow to someone saying that they will “be” together forever. Here In My Heart is another love song, which is pretty self explanatory by looking at the title. It could easily be mistaken for a rejected 98 Degrees song.
The only ballad on the album that I truly do like is Last Flight Out, which also happens to be one of the most sappy. Another love song, though this one tells the story of the guy being vulnerable in a relationship and wanting to do anything to prove his love (“For you I would fly/At least, I would try/For you I’d take/The last flight out”). I’ll admit, the song is pretty cheesy- from the sound effects of a plane taking off at the beginning, right down to the Justin Timberlake-esque harmonies. But the thing I like about Last Flight Out, is that it doesn’t seem to be trying to hard to be sincere or romantic like the other ballads. It’s just a simple pop song about being in love, and I appreciate that.
The album ends with My Friend, which is actually a sweet song about being supportive for a friend in need. Musically, it gets a bit cheesy, and it’s actually quite similar to I Will Rescue You, but less interesting.
Being completely honest, The Promise, is only a few steps away from being a horrible album. However, the boys of Plus One can sing, and that helps the album from falling completely flat. It’s unfortunate how little faith their label had in them, and it’s almost sad to see them stuck with such horrible songs and production.
1. Written On My Heart
2. God Is In This Place
3. Promise, The
4. My Life
5. Soul Tattoo
6. I Will Rescue You
7. When Your Spirit Gets Weak
8. Last Flight Out
9. Run To You
11. Here In My Heart
12. My Friend