Reviewed by Simon Eden
In 2005 the biggest gospel record label in the US, Verity, partnered with Gospel Dream, an American Christian version of the TV show American Idol. Brian Smith was the winner and consequently won a recording contract with Zomba Gospel. 'Love Letter' is the first fruit of that contract, and a surprisingly disappointing one at that. Zomba's artists include Kirk Franklin, J Moss, Tonex, Fred Hammond, Byron Cage amongst many other top names. So when Brian Smith turned up it sounds like Zomba didn't know what to do with him. Brian got to work with Steve Huff, a renowned hip-hop/urban producer, but it sounds like the co-producer Jeremy Redmond of Big Daddy Weave had the main influence on the sound. The result is a bland Americana country-esque pop rock compilation of ballads. The vocals are nowhere nearly as powerful as Brian's stature indicates, and far smoother than contemporaries like Mac Powell of Third Day, even reminiscent of Daniel O'Donnell. His vocal style seems better suited to a soulful love song, but has been forced to fit to ballad rock. Brian co-wrote seven of the 11 tracks on the album, but all lack any vibrancy that indicates the "X factor" that led to his win. The nature of the TV programme and the record label will guarantee some commercial success, but it may not be sustained.
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|Through tenacity, a dream and extraordinary talent, Gospel Dream winner Brian Smith has come this far by an enduring faith. Brian fulfilled a dream when he was awarded a recording contract with Verity Records. His debut release, 'Love Letter', is a confirmation of the immense talent and potential seen by the Gospel Dream panellists. Not only is Brian a tremendously talented vocalist but he is a gifted writer who wrote or co-wrote the majority of the songs on 'Love Letter'.|
Since winning the Gospel Dream talent search and recording his solo release, Brian has had two songs on the Gospel Dream finalist CD. One of the songs, 'Love Like Rain', will be is bonus cut on 'Love Letter'.
Brian’s creative influences include charttopping artists Third Day, MercyMe and Jeremy Camp. Producers on 'Love Letter' include Steve Huff and Jeremy Redman of Big Daddy Weave.