STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 122967-18996 LABEL: Sparrow 5099960707123 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2012-02-13 RRP: £1.99
Reviewed by Brendan O'Regan
Two things stand out on this album - Assad's fine voice (reminiscent of Brooke Fraser, Beth Nielsen Chapman with a touch of Jennifer Warnes), and the quality of the songwriting. Assad's songs are full of spiritual themes, but they are more exploratory than preachy and are never sentimental. Many are about relationships - between people, and between people and God. "Sparrow" is probably the most commercial track here with its simple melody and lyrics ("Why should I be troubled when his tender word I hear"), but the best numbers are those that feature Assad's voice and piano playing most prominently. Try for example the hauntingly melodic "O My Soul" with its simple but crucial message ("Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God") or "Slow", which gets more deeply into the relationship with God ("I've heard that faith moves mountains/I know it moves my feet/To follow You"). One of the standout tracks is "Lament" which explores inner contradictions using the Biblical story of Mary and Martha to illustrate the point ("Why is it easy to work but hard to rest sometimes?"). On the relationships theme the best track is "Wherever You Go", a fine song co-written with Matt Maher that explores God's search for us, especially for the lost sheep ("When your wine's all gone and your well's run dry/Open your hands and look into my eyes"). The only down side I found was an overuse of drum programming. In particular it made the opening song seem rather limp. But thankfully the album recovered well.
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Due out on St Valentine's Day, Audrey Assad's highly anticipated sophomore album, Heart, finds Audrey once again collaborating with other songwriters and producer Marshall Altman (Brooke Fraser, Natasha Bedingfield, Marc Broussard) crafting another collection of songs that mine the depths of both heart and soul as only Audrey can.
Audrey says about the first single Sparrow off her upcoming project, "I've always loved the old hymn, His Eye Is On The Sparrow. Kyle Lee and I rearranged it with a new melody and it's become a really special moment for me, singing it live - it's so simple and yet so beautiful a picture, to know that my life is witnessed in all its frailty and wonder by God-and all of it, even my most secret suffering, matters. It really does."