Summertime is when the weather gets hot and humid in the deep south, when the beach beckons thousands of tourists and a few dozen locals to enjoy the cool ocean waters, when the mountains and streams call out for adventurers to come and be extreme. And then there’s summer music, for better or for worse. While it’s being released late in the season, Todd Agnew’s Reflection of Something still works as summer music, and joins in with the beach and the mountains to invite the listener to something deeper, something maybe more fun and less serious, and something more adventurous or at least more risk-taking than life in the day-to-day.
The first thing about good summer music is that there are tunes made for driving. The growth heard on this new project is a decidedly bluesy side for the artist. “New Name” is a pumping riff on how life happens, and how God redeems and re-names us beyond the labels and descriptions other folks hang on us. And in “Wonder Of It All”, the addition of a country feel brings out the awesomeness of divine impact on our lives. These are songs that feel like they’ve come more from the heart, more from his own life than necessarily covering another writer’s work, and the fun side of the business comes through the project on some of these faster-paced tunes.
The second thing I enjoy about summer music is that there’s a depth there if you want it. Not pushy or preachy, but if you’re driving the interstates to whatever next destination, there are times of calm and clarity that need a ballad, something deeper than the trivial. Reflection of Something reflects something, and that’s the growth of the artist. The bluesy feel is still there, maybe even more pronounced, in the slower tempos and the deeper lyrics (it’s probably just me, but I think he’s channeling Darius Rucker on many of these songs, and as a Hootie fan, that’s not a bad deal). In putting “Isaiah 6” to music, Agnew takes a giant leap of faith, and pulls it off with a depth that conveys his own redemption and reflection on the holiness of God. And with “Mercy In Me”, the blues-voice works to tell the story of people just doing the best they can, wrestling with what it means to be merciful in this world.
The third thing that might work for summer music is a cutesy pop-filled dipsy love song, and thankfully there’s nothing like that here. Todd Agnew has been allowed to stretch as an artist and a storyteller, and registers on a different level than much of the radio-ready CCM on the shelves today. Whether driving to the beach, to the mountains, or just in the daily commute across town to work and make a living, this project works to remind us of higher things, deeper convictions, and adventurous risks worth taking this summer.