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June 13, 2017

Shallow Spirituality from a Seattle Rocker

Approximately 0.4% of people will recognize the names in this post.

After Grammatrain, but before he joined with Michael Tait of the freshly disbanded dc Talk to form the group Tait, Pete Stewart tried going solo as a rock guitarist/songwriter/singer.

I bought his album during my junior year of high school after reading a review that intrigued me enough to spend the money, and I revisited it a bit while driving today. It could be described as Christian grunge, which makes sense given that he’s from Seattle.

Some notably relevant and spacious moments have endured thanks to the song structure, harmonic language, and guitar solos on some of the tracks:

You won’t hear stuff like this from Third Day or Newsboys or whoever is dominating the “positive hits for the whole family” station these days.

What drowns these features out, however, is how insufferably bad the lyrics are. They hurt my brain. Obvious, artless, clichéd expressions of faith douse the album and betray a shallowness that still pervades the radio-friendly Christian music machine today. You’re much better off with someone like Andrew Peterson, who is honest and thoughtful even if he is all acoustic and mellow.

When I learned moments ago that Grammatrain reformed around 2009, this time fronted by a Pete Stewart who no longer claimed to be a Christian, I could only nod and shrug to myself, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

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