Music Reviews
Mac Powell and the Family Reunion

Mac Powell and the Family Reunion

Back Again

Thirty Tigers

Mmm-mmm! Ya smell that? Somebody must be grillin’ over at the Powell place. Apparently ol’ Mac and his band, Family Reunion, are throwin’ a musical backyard barbecue. And the really good news is, we’re ALL invited! Can everybody say, “WHOO?”

Simply put, integrity and authenticity are vital components of popular music. Sadly, those components have been far and few in recent years. However, in the case of celebrated singer / songwriter, Mac Powell, musical integrity and authenticity seep from his pores.

Following the 2017 grand finale of his longtime, platinum-selling, Grammy-winning band, Third Day, Powell began the next chapter of his musical story in 2018 with his current project, The Family Reunion. A year or so later, Powell and “the fam” have just dropped Back Again – a snappy new set produced by studio ace, Jason Hoard (Casting Crowns, Laura Story, Shane & Shane, Natalie Grant).

With Back Again, Powell refuses to remain in his stylistic comfort zone. Instead, he and his teammates move the ball another 30 yards downfield – squarely into the end zone, and score – BIG! Imagine the full-body flavor of a Zac Brown record, but with better songs – and without the distraction of annoying alcohol endorsements or dopey weed references.

Back Again kicks off with the sizzlin’ title track. A straight-up, Americana-style, country-tinged rocker, it’s also the record’s lead-off video single. Bursting with authentic Travis Tritt-meets-Tom Petty-inspired appeal, it serves as a reliable GPS – pointing listeners in the precise direction of where the ensuing 53-minute musical journey will lead. If more modern rock was this compelling, I could choke down more of it.

Projecting what I perceive to be a message of faith, “Flood Waters” is a traditional-sounding, early-70s era country treasure, dripping with irresistible melody and driven by an infectious shuffle. This one’s brimming with plenty of attitude and tasty, good-time pickin’. If more contemporary Christian music was this free-thinking, I could choke down more of it.

Featuring a guest vocal appearance from established country chart-buster, Craig Morgan, “Whoo” feels like a party. The video looks like a party too – “on a payday Friday night.” If more current country was this legit, I could – well, you get where I’m going here.

Other noteworthy highlights include the down-home, funk-flavored, organ-bathed sing-along, “Watermelon Rind” and “Going To California” – a gloriously delicate song, glossed by gorgeous pedal steel.

Spelled, “Crooked letter, crooked letter, I. Crooked letter, crooked letter, I,” the record-closing “Mississippi” is a clever and catchy breakup song. However, for my money, the pick of this 15-pup litter is the heartfelt roots gem, “Heaven” – a sneaky “gotcha” track that drips with Jackson Maine-flavored honey on the front end, then thwacks ya with Allman Brothers-style fury on the back end.

Yeah, I know it’s only July. So, to start pointing to a potential “Record of the Year” this early on would be jumping the gun just a bit. Truth be told, it wouldn’t be the first time I was accused of being premature. But holy cow, unless “you know who” drops a new slab in 2019, it’s gonna be tough to beat Back Again. And I mean MIGHTY tough.

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