Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
I always thought that a legacy was something that you left behind when you left. In the case of Ms Grant, for the past 25 years she has been one of the most visible Christian music artists and the development of her career has matched the growth of the whole American CCM genre. Musically, she has been quiet over recent years as the turmoils of her personal life have unfolded, often in the glare of the media spotlight and amidst so many rumours that fact and fiction have been difficult to distinguish. In American Christian music culture, it seems that everyone I meet has an opinion about it all. There are even questions over whether her life choices have actually blotted her own musical and spiritual legacy as a generation of 30 and 40 somethings who have grown up on her music feel let down. The story goes that while Amy was recording her new pop album (release date delayed and sliding as the seasons change) that her management proposed that she should record and release this album first as a celebration of her 25 years in Christian music. The 'Legacy' in this case isn't Amy's own music (though an album of countrified versions of her most Christian songs might have made more sense) but an album of covers of songs that have inspired and sustained her. Going through her hymnal, Amy personally selected the songs and hymns here. Cynics might suggest that in the light of her marriage breakup and the general questions surrounding her subsequent marriage to country star Vince Gill that an obviously Christian project like this one is the ideal way of re-establishing herself in the Christian marketplace. Her previous album was an equally safe Christmas release and perhaps there's been a desire to let plenty of time pass by before her next "proper" album is released. Whatever the reason, 'Legacy' comes ahead of what must be a more personally revealing pop album which is scheduled to follow later in the year (usual Amy sliding release dates permitting). In the end, 'Legacy' was rush recorded in a matter of a few weeks and squeezed into her release schedule. Unfortunately, there is a sense of hurry captured in the grooves where this simply feels like a rushed ill conceived album. Produced by Vince Gill and Brown Bannister, the rootsy country feel of the album seems to owe more to Vince's influence than Bannister. It's all very pleasant but there's a sense of "heard it all before" about the album. Doing countrified versions of hymns isn't exactly a new concept is it? So you get classics like "My Jesus I Love Thee", "Softly And Tenderly", "I Need Thee Every Hour/Nothing But The Blood", "Fairest Lord Jesus" and a medley of "What A Friend We have In Jesus/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art". They are all delivered with Amy's famous vocals ad it's all very nice but that's about it. There are very few moments on the album that are genuinely arresting even in terms of inspirational music which is what this album is trying to be. Standouts for me are the songs where you can actually imagine they reflect some of the challenges of recent years. The flow of songs in the middle of the album inspired me the most. "What You Already Own" is a confessional prayer for God's protection and grace in the midst of failure and weakness ending with a determination and dedication. This sweeps into the historic and moving pairing of "It Is Well With My Soul/The River's Gonna Keep On Rolling". The former a hymn of confidence in God in the midst of the most turbulent circumstances, the latter an observation that the circumstances of life are always transient and that though we sin, God's forgiveness is still available in the end. One other song worth noting is Amy's version of one of the biggest songs in American CCM in recent times, "I Can Only Imagine". As you can read in the MercyMe feature elsewhere in this mag, Grant wanted to record it simply because the song had touched her so deeply. It has been a huge hit for MercyMe and this lilting version is actually the second time that Amy has recorded it. Originally she recorded a full on pop production that was going to go on her next pop album but with the release of 'Legacy', she has redone the song in a gentler vein. MercyMe fans are always going to prefer the original version and Amy has rewritten some of the words but it's something of a tribute to Bart Millard's writing that the song itself communicates powerfully no matter who sings it. All in all, I have to confess that 'Legacy' is ultimately a frustrating album and however genuine Amy's desire to record the songs that have touched her, it sounds too much like yet another generic hymns album. For me, I can't wait until she releases her next pop album, it's been too long and I'm getting tired of all the filler releases.
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|Sample Track Listing:|
||This Is My Father's World
||My Jesus, I Love Thee
||Softly And Tenderly
This track data is supplied by the Cross Rhythms CD/DVD review library. Please note that CD tracks may vary
according to release region or product version.