STYLE: Roots/Acoustic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 44793-11248 LABEL: Sparrow 5099951836320 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2008-04-30 RRP: £13.00
Reviewed by Ewan Jones
If you still consider CCM hitmaker Bethany as a purveyor of tightly produced teen pop this album will overturn your expectations. It's really been awhile since I've heard an album from a female singer/songwriter that's won me over from the outset, but I'm happy to say that that's changed with the arrival of this set on my doorstep. This is an unpretentious little collection of 10 acoustic songs, strong on melody and meaningful lyrics but satisfyingly low on clichés and (as with so many acoustic singer/songwriters) obscure introspection. Every song is unique, well thought through and lovingly nurtured. Dillon's voice is sometimes delicate, often strong, but always mature and warm. The organic production is perfectly judged to suit the mellow mood with strings, piano, percussion and the odd backing vocal meaning that Dillon's voice stays front and centre. Highlights include final gospel track "Let Your Light Shine" (sure I've heard that piano part on a Bryan Adams song though) and a cover of the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" that more than does justice to the original. Even if you already own the full band versions of these songs on previous CDs, I should think this is still an essential addition to your collection. I genuinely haven't heard a Christian female solo album this good since Jennifer Knapp and Sarah Masen were churning out their sharpest stuff 10 years ago.
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When Bethany Dillon came on the scene in 2004 at the young age of 14, it was not only the depth of her songs that received attention but her distinctive alto voice that sang with deep soul and wisdom of someone twice her age. In concert, both Bethany’s songs and voice are
showcased, as production is mostly acoustic and spacious. Though some might say ‘unplugged’ albums are overdone, for artists like Bethany, it just works and has proven to be fan favourites. ‘So Far: Acoustic Sessions’ provides
Bethany’s fans exactly what they’ve wanted, an
organic, stripped down album of their favourite songs along with Hero from ‘Chronicles Of Narnia Soundtrack’ and a Beatle’s cover of ‘We Can Work It Out’, to top it off.