Steve Ladd released a 6-song CD titled No Excuses, No Regrets in 2017, and as the title indicated, Ladd and his record label must have had no regrets with that decision. 2018’s Come Up Clean is also a 6-song collection. Perhaps an annual release of just 6-songs makes sense when you consider that most full-length albums only generate three or four radio singles, and an artist doesn’t typically incorporate all the songs from a new album into their performances. Of course, it’s also less money to spend in the studio. With fewer songs, though, comes greater pressure to make sure every song is a winner.
One area where a corner was clearly cut on this recording is graphic design. The cover for Come Up Clean appears rather simplistic in comparison to No Excuses, No Regrets. (Click HERE to read Kyle’s recent article on dying art of album covers.)
Thankfully, the quality of the music does not suffer at all. “The Thing About A Valley” is a fun upbeat track (even though the lyric addresses the topic of suffering). “He Has Made A Way” is defined by a gritty guitar and a hand clap rhythm that enters for each chorus to augment the snare drum on beats 2 and 4. “I Never Lost My Praise” is set to a slower gospel groove with some nice B3 organ work by Jason Webb in the background.
“Unshakeable God” kicks back into high gear with a driving rhythm. “Come Up Clean” is set to a mid-tempo, partly programmed groove and features a guest vocal by Jason Crabb. The album ends with “Grave Clothes” featuring a back-beat rhythm punctuated by occasional country guitar licks.
I believe all of these songs are new, in contrast with 2017’s No Excuses, No Regrets, where five of the six songs were cover versions of songs previously recorded by others. Aside from the rather plain cover artwork, I have no complaints about Come Up Clean. Both the production quality and the song selection are excellent, and I like the overall energy of this CD.
Producer: Cody McVey
Label: Sonlite Records
Song Titles: The Thing About A Valley; He Has Made A Way; I Never Lost My Praise; Unshakable God; Come Up Clean (with Jason Crabb); Grave Clothes
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (1-5 Stars)
Release Date: September 28, 2018