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Published:August 4th, 2006 07:42 EST
Album Review:  Five for Fighting's Two Lights

Album Review: Five for Fighting's Two Lights

By Maria Grella

John Ondrasik came up with the unique name: Five For Fighting as an easy to remember moniker, in reference to the penalty given in hockey.  After listening to Two Lights, the penalty should be raised.

Five For Fighting's third album, Two Lights, is a collection of songs that continues with the smaltsy tunes he's been made famous for. Ondrasik puts together a compilation that is, on the whole, a downer.  His high falsetto voice, while endearing on previous master hits like "100 Years" and "Superman", is overused.  The lyrical quality also suffers, but the album is not a complete wash out.

The disc begins with "Freedom Never Cries," a ballad with too many repeating phrases to express the sentiment of appreciation.  It comments on social apathy, concern for the future, and comments on not praying to God until it's too late.  "World" is another slow paced melody, but it is more pop oriented.  Renegade revenge is found in "California Justice" and his patented heart-tugging skills are present in the best track of the album, "The Riddle," a song written for his son. 

The title track, "Two Lights", is another beautiful tune about Ondrasik's son.  Lyrics, melody, and layered instrumentation make it work well.  "65 Mustang" is a missed opportunity for a great road song.  It has a decent chorus and a driving sound, but it is not as sing along worthy as it could be.  "I Just Love You," of course, is another ballad that is piano based and emotion heavy.

The reggae inspired "Policeman's X-mas Party" should be arrested.  It boasts a ridiculous concoction between falsetto vocals and choppy phrasing.  "Road to Heaven" is impossibly slow tempoed.  The closing track to this short ten disc set is the catchy "Johnny America," which is appropriately an Americana styled song.

Overall, Ondrasik and his band provide a solid disc with Two Lights with songs of father-son conversations, justice and social apathy.  The songwriting skills are superb at points, and not so much at others.  Five For Fighting depends too much on the proven wishy washy formula, rather than taking a chance on rock'n'roll.  The up tempo tracks are competent, and more should have been included.  Fans of Five For Fighting will enjoy this album; casual listeners would be better off purchasing single tracks.