STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 20786-11841 LABEL: Reunion 602341010924 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2006-11-07 RRP: £9.99
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
Here's the 19th album from a veteran artist whose last release 'Healing Rain', in 2004, saw him returning to pop music after a couple of live worship albums. Is it my imagination or has Smith's musical journey stalled since 1997's 'Live The Life'? Self indulgent soundtracks, unimaginative (though admittedly high selling) live worship albums and then the patchy 'Healing Rain' album. Where once a Michael W Smith release would contain a collection of diamond pop gems, now it's a set of imitation pearls. It seems that Smith can't decide whether this should be a studio worship album or a pop record. One thing is certain, despite two or three brief moments where the Smith of old can be recognised, this album is largely a disappointment, packed with so many turgid ballads that it's in danger of collapsing under the weight of its own inertia. Smith has employed the songwriting talent of current teenage prodigy Leeland Mooring on a lot of songs here with some surprising results. The opening "Cover Me" is a strong start and gave me high hopes for the album but these were soon dashed. "Escape Your Love" is dated pop soul with a Stevie Wonder style harmonica, "In Silence" is more upbeat but lacks the punch of a classic like "Love Me Good". And that's the problem here, it just seems Smith is a shadow of his former self and there is something seriously amiss here. The Amy Grant co-write "How To Say Goodbye" has a pretty melody and "Open Arms" which wants to be an anthemic moving inspirational ballad ends up sounding like Smith by numbers. Not sure what he was thinking of when he recorded a cover of Keith Green's "Oh Lord You're Beautiful" or Hillsong United's pedestrian worship song "Stand" but it feels like I've heard it all before and neither song adds anything to this album. What has become of Michael W Smith, purveyor of pop masterpieces? Where once he made colourful creative artistic pop music, now he seems to have faded to grey soggy blandness.
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'This album is called Stand. It is a call to stand for what you believe in. It is a call to stand outside of the walls of the church, rubbing shoulders with the lost. It is a call to stand because you’ve captured a glimpse of something so powerful you cannot stay seated. It is a call to stand ‘for the One who gave it all’.' Michael W Smith.
This album is more than a collection of songs – it is an experience. It reflects ideas that have captured Michael W Smith’s imagination with an urgency that comes through the music - a download of his thoughts and feelings as he leads worship at his home church. Themes include embracing the lost, stepping out of our comfort zones and taking a stand.
Eight of the tracks on this album were penned by Leeland Moorings, lead singer and songwriter for the band Leeland.
Michael says, 'We need to think what happens in church on Sunday as only 10% of what it means to be the church. The rest of the week should be 90% of what it means to be the church, the real body of Christ.'