Grammatrain was one of the many Christian rock bands that sprang up during the 90’s when the genre saw an explosion of popularity. Unlike most of those bands, however, these Seattle-based rockers played grunge music. It was little known that Christian music had its own Soundgarden, but Grammatrain earned that title with their fantastic debut album, Lonely House
Musically Grammatrain more than held their own against their secular contemporaries. Lonely House
is a testament to the great chemistry the band had, with each member of the three-piece group showing a high level of skill at his respective instrument. The interplay between the fuzzy basslines and the gritty guitar riffs is consistently impressive, only made better by the fittingly raw production. The album is also sufficiently diverse in style. There are fast and energetic rockers (Believe
), darker mid-tempo tracks that would fit right on Superunknown
), and poignant ballads (Need
), all of which the band pulls off with ease, and in most cases with the addition of an impressive guitar solo.
Without a doubt the standout force on Lonely House
is frontman Pete Stewart. He proves himself to be a talented vocalist, with an accessible yet gritty vocal style that fits the music perfectly. His lyrics are transparent and real, dealing with issues like hypocrisy, pain, loss, and doubting his faith, and they do so with intelligence and honesty. His vulnerability is really what makes Lonely House
such a great album. It’s a much more realistic look at the Christian perspective than the perpetual optimism that is often associated with faith-based bands. There are certainly some spiritual themes in the lyrics, but they never sugarcoat anything or grow preachy. They simply present a man who is on his own journey, experiencing life and its hardships like everyone else.
is an overlooked gem in 90’s rock, likely because it was marketed more toward the Christian crowd when it really held appeal for a broader audience than that. Rather than sounding like a carbon copy of popular grunge groups of the day with a Christian twist, Grammatrain created a unique album whose songwriting could stand up to that of its peers. With its hard-rocking songs, thoughtful lyricism, and great musicianship, Lonely House
is easily one of CCM’s crowning achievements.