Don Rutherford
Chronicles 16
Thousand Generations Records
(release date: January 19, 2019)

By Bob Marovich

Hearing Don Rutherford’s Chronicles 16 reminded me of the concept albums produced in the 1970s by Canadian rock band Rush.

This was confirmed with the one-two punch intro to the album’s “Canaan / The Few,” which evokes the opening to Rush’s 2112.

Rutherford’s Christian concept album, subtitled “A Psalm in Rock,” is a clever conceit, a rock oratorio based on David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16 (King James Version). A hard-charging rhythm section, screaming guitar solos, and ever-shifting motifs are reminiscent of ‘70s prog rock theatricality. Although the music is modern, the lyrics are faithful to King David’s original writing. The Bible never sounded like this.

Although he has performed in a variety of musical styles, Rutherford knows his rock catalog, citing such influences as progressive rock (and concept album) stalwarts Yes and Pink Floyd.

For example, “Intro March / Call Upon His Name” begins with a fanfare of gritty guitars and fuzzy synth over a persistent militaristic drum riff (for musical symmetry, Lester Estelle’s distinctive drumming returns at the end of the album). “Desert Dance” is built on a Middle Eastern musical motif, with guitars mimicking the sound of an oud.

Of all the parts on the album, “Everlasting Covenant,” with its relaxed folk-rock vibe and vocals by Rutherford, is the most radio-friendly piece. “Sing Unto the Lord All the Earth” is another standalone track, as is the reflective anthem “Benediction,” on which Deborah Rutherford joins Don on vocals.

Grammy nominee and three-time Dove Award recipient Travis Wyrick co-produces with Rutherford a crisp project, one distinctive among Christian rock releases.

Three of Five Stars

Pick: “Everlasting Covenant”

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.