Geoff Moore’s “The Next Thing” a welcome return to the heartland

Geoff Moore was one of the 1990s least likely contemporary Christian music stars. He wasn’t a pretty pop boy. His music at its heart was heartland rock, Americana with its rougher edges polished; the stuff out of which artists such as John Mellencamp and Michael Stanley Band made their careers. Nothing grating, but hardly soft pop radio-friendly fodder. Nevertheless, he enjoyed a lengthy and quite successful run before things naturally wound down as times and tastes changed. The kids do not know his music’s roots, let alone the music itself. They have never heard it, nor heard of it. The music industry has long since chosen megachurch-friendly praise and worship tuneage as its stock in trade. Not much room for music made for a rural back porch; straightforward songs of praise and ground level connection with Christ sung with fellowship, friend, and family in-between watching the kids and dogs and cats chase each other around the yard.

After a five year absence, Moore has returned with the crowdsourced The Next Thing. From the opening notes and word of “The Well Digger,” sparse instrumentation backing rich harmonies imploring all to remember not only the working person whose labor brings fruit all enjoy but the God Who creates all, it is beautifully obvious Moore is not only back making music, but back at full strength.

The Next Thing is a fairly quiet but never flaccid record. The ballads do not lack intensity or energy. Moore isn’t about rocking anyone’s socks off, but neither is he inclined to turn things down. The melodies are comforting; the guitar-rich backing strong but never cloying or overbearing. Strong songs, well done but never overdone.

Lyrically, Moore keeps it fairly simple but never simplistic. His message is roots to branches, one in which grounded fundamentals of the faith, and deep faith itself, direct a person through all aspects of life. Moore addresses societal issues from the inside out. It is the individual’s personal transformation through and in Jesus radiating outward that creates movement and change.

Freed from commercial restraints, The Next Thing is Moore playing to his strengths. He superbly maintains his identity as Christian rock’s backroads poet. With solid songwriting and equally solid faith Moore has created something of true value. Hopefully The Next Thing will find its deserving audience beyond long-time fans alone and truly become the next thing.

The record is available at Moore’s website.