Brooks Maguire’s fourth full length album, Comeback King, follows up on his first Nashville recording for A.C.T. Music, 2014’s The Road I Never Chose. The Maui-based musician, singer, and songwriter recently won Radio Airplay/Jango.com’s Grand Prize for their 2016 Holiday Song context and originally hails from the Gulf Coast area. Strains of gospel, rock, country, and blues music inform everything he touches, but Maguire and his collaborators have the range and confidence to tackle any musical genre and often mingle a number of styles to impressive effect. His songwriting is assisted by contributions from Joe Beck and aims to deliver an uplifting message to audiences that remind them to persevere in the face of life’s trials. It isn’t presented to the audience with any kind of Pollyanna optimism, but instead speaks to the worth of enduring those storms so that we might emerge from them richer and stronger than before.
The track “Goliath” is an inventive application of the Biblical story to our modern lives and finds immediate universality. Maguire is joined at critical points by some stellar backing vocals, but his bell-clear singing is strong enough to carry the tune alone and frequently does. This song has a light, melodic rock vibe that will please a large audience and Maguire’s messages comes through quite well. “Front Street” features the talents of former Glass Harp guitarist and songwriter Phil Keaggy and his playing adds an immense colorful lift to an already vibrant tune. The detail in the lyrics is, at times, dizzying but Maguire keeps his delivery under control and the storyteller’s eye for detail makes this a whirlwind listening experience. “God Knows Your Name” is a surging pop rock tune with great energy and romping piano that matches up quite well with Maguire’s endearing vocal. The chorus is a great moment in the song and takes everything to a higher level.
The title song has a little bit of a harder rock bite than the earlier tracks, but the messaging remains the same and as artful as ever. Maguire’s storytelling prowess, once again, figures in heavily with this song and provides an excellent counterpoint to the musical backing. “Makeshift Angel” is one of the album’s late jewels and Maguire sings a great lyric that speaks to personal and universal experiences in a very engaging fashion. The album’s final song, “All In God’s Time”, has a little heavier of an evangelical hand than the earlier songs, but it never weighs down the song. Instead, these lyrics sound much more like a paean to his faith that gently urges listeners to study the possibilities. Comeback King, as mentioned earlier, has an ever timely message to bring the audience without ever being high handed about it. Brooks Maguire has the ability to mine his own experiences and show empathy for those of his audiences in such a way that it constitutes fine musical art. His fourth full length release is, by far, the best of his long life in music and conveys who is better than anything preceding it.
9 out of 10.