Heath McNease creates a very interesting, diverse kind of music. Taken from his site’s biography:
“Growing up, his mom gave him The Carpenters, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles. His brothers gave him gangster rap. Classic rock, blues, and folk would eventually collide with his love for hip hop and…yes…musical theatre.”
Heath makes good hip-hop, but I’ve always been drawn more to his acoustic music, which has always been really good. In August of last year, he undertook a project of high expectations: an album based solely on the works of C.S. Lewis, entitled The Weight Of Glory.
Lyrically, this album is VERY good. I haven’t read many of C.S. Lewis’s books (only the Narnia books) but from what I can tell and from what people have told me, Heath does an excellent job summarizing the key points of Lewis’s books, into 3-4 minute songs, no less. I personally like the lyrics in “The Four Loves” and “Surprised By Joy.”
Musically, this album is even better. Heath has definitely found his niche in acoustic music. That’s not to say his hip-hop is bad, but his artistry is shown better through his acoustic music. The Weight of Glory only includes one song with rapping (“Mere Christianity”), where it does fit pretty well.
While Heath’s acoustic guitar and voice are the driving musical forces throughout the album, they are frequently accompanied by other instruments, such as the piano, tambourine, xylophone, synth and occasionally, a lightly distorted electric guitar. Each song is different in its arrangement, and it works extremely well. Only a few songs are below par for this album, and even they aren’t tracks you’d want to skip.
Heath’s voice is also top-notch. He’s got a great vocal range, singing high notes for songs like “Screwtape Letters” and “Surprised By Joy,” and singing lowly and intimately for “A Grief Observed” and “The World’s Last Night,” and a mix for most of the other songs, most notably the album’s closer, “The Weight Of Glory.” On only one song does his voice become unpleasant: “Edmund,” where there’s a frequent cry of “Edmund….” but it ends up sounding more like “Wuhhmuhhh….”
“A Grief Observed” is a great track, featuring only Heath and his guitar, singing “Mercy on my soul…”
The incredibly catchy “The Problem of Pain” is unique lyrically, and is stuck in my head…a lot. Did I mention it’s catchy?
“Edmund” has the aforementioned problem, plus it just doesn’t stand out that much. It’s the only track I skip.
“The Great Divorce” has a drum pattern that sounds a little strange, and a little too upbeat compared to the rest of the album. Still a good song, but not a great one.
The Weight Of Glory is a great album. Anyone who is a fan of Heath McNease, C.S. Lewis or just good music should pick this up immediately. 9 out of 10 stars.
…which leads me to the best part. This album is 100% free to download from NoiseTrade.com or Heath’s BandCamp page, as are all but two of his other albums. If you like this one, I’d recommend downloading his older album, The House Always Wins, or if you’re interested in his hip-hop, The Nintendo Thumb Mixtape.