TobyMac "This Is Not A Test (Deluxe Version) Second Opinion" by Andrew Funderburk (cmaddict.com) on 2015-08-06 10:12:01
With the highly successful Billboard topper in 2012, the pop/rock/hip-hop craftsman from dcTalk is back with his latest ***THIS IS NOT A TEST***. Ever since his solo career kicked off in 2001, TobyMac has been evolving and so has his music. His latest project stands as a landmark of this evolution, because it is like a musical compilation of that evolution with a flare of today’s musical beat and feel. In light of that, while still remaining different and relevant in sound, Toby remains true to Toby and how he’s established himself as an artist.
While TobyMac has never been one to shy away from tough issues with his songs (e.g. Gone, Irene, unity, racism) or the reason he records music, ***THIS IS NOT A TEST*** stands as one of his most solid in penning Christ into the lyrics. While some artists heavily pen their experiences with God and point to God in how they write, sometimes it can come across cheesy, cliché, or irrelevant; however, Toby is able to somehow avoid a lot of those pitfalls. Examples of this can be found in songs like “Love Broke Thru” (When love broke through/You found me in the darkness/Wandering through the desert/I was a hopeless fool/Now I’m hopelessly devoted/My chains have broken/And it all began with You), “Undeniable” (Blind to the beauty that surrounds me/I try to push away the need that I need proof/And this struggle that I have ain’t nothing new/But the evidence is piling up/You changed my heart/Isn’t that enough?/You gave me life I can’t take credit for), or “Lights Shine Bright” (I wanna magnify Your light/I wanna reflect the Son/Cut like diamonds with colors by the millions/This is the only world we know…If we gon be a reflection/We gotta make this dirt rock glow).
As said in the opener, ***THIS IS NOT A TEST***, while unique and different from past projects, musically goes through a lot of Toby’s evolution as a music maker. “Lights Shine Bright (feat. Hollyn),” “Feel It (feat. Mr. TalkBox),” and “Fall” takes one back to a “Portable Sounds” feel. While tracks like “Love Feels Like (feat. dcTalk)” and the second single off the project “’Til the Day I Die (feat. NF)” hold a slight rock edge which are more reminiscent of “Welcome to Diverse City.”
TobyMac has always had a keen sense of how to construct and produce a sound that builds not only on the foundation that he and artists of the past have laid, but also how to take the sounds of today and release a beat that still is relevant and grabs the listener’s ear. His career is continually building hype and more credibility as an artist. ***THIS IS NOT A TEST*** is yet another mark of his excellence in musical artistry. While it’s easy to hear that the album is fun and enjoyable, it is equally evident, if not more, in each beat dropped and each lyric presented the deep thought and strong creativity that each track holds. ***THIS IS NOT A TEST*** is sure to be the CCM’S summer 2015 favorite!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Pop / Hip-Hop
Label: ForeFront Records
Release Date: August 7, 2015
Buy it: Amazon - iTunes
Like a Match (3:07)
Backseat Driver (feat. Hollyn & TRU) (3:21)
This Is Not a Test (feat. Capital Kings) (2:39)
Lights Shine Bright (feat. Hollyn) (4:35)
Til the Day I Die (feat. NF) (3:47)
Feel It (feat. Mr. Talkbox) (4:39)
Move (Keep Walkin’) (3:41)
Love Broke Thru (3:57)
Beyond Me (3:13)
Love Feels Like (feat. DC Talk) (4:19)
Lift You Up (feat. Ryan Stevenson) (3:30)
Beyond Me (Phenomenon Remix By Soul Glow Activatur) (3:47)
Like a Match (Garcia’s Remix) (3:35)