The Distance to Here
Radioactive / Universal
THE VAST MAJORITY of secular rock acts who dress spiritual concerns in their albums are relatively grizzled veterans. A real exception is Live, a band based in Pennsylvania whose career has paralleled the alternative scene that blossomed in the decade just passed.
Musically, this quartet plays radio-friendly pop with alternative hooks. That sound is enriched by the fact that Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame has a Midas touch as this band's producer, one which was seen on the unit's strong first two CDs, 1991's Mental Jewelry and the 1994 masterpiece, Throwing Copper.
Lyrically, though, the lifeblood of the career of Live has been the angst-filled spiritual journey of its songwriter, vocalist and frontman, Ed Kowalczyk. Still in his 20s, he dubs his craft "modern gospel." On the band's fourth album, The Distance to Here, one sees this simply means that Kowalczyk's songwriting yearnings involve a relationship with God.
Much of rock music's history has seen songwriters and performers tackle temporal searches for earthly love within the framework of three chords and four minutes. …