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You Are So Good to Me
Artist: Waterdeep
Label: Squint Entertainment
Length: 11 tracks/51:04

These days, the announcement of the release of a "worship album" is nothing out of the ordinary. Groups as stylistically diverse as Phillips, Craig and Dean, Third Day, and even the Insyderz have channeled their efforts into this somewhat ambiguous musical mold. Sometimes the fit has been perfect; other offerings have been less than a "joyful noise." You are So Good to Me, the latest album from Waterdeep, the band who defies labels, reveals the group fitting comfortably into its new surroundings, making a welcome addition to the "worship" genre.

That a Waterdeep worship album is successful should not come as a surprise. After all, their songs have consistently explored the relationship between God and man, making a worship album less a stretch than that of other groups. You Are So Good to Me isn't as eclectic as earlier albums like Sink or Swim or Live at the New Earth, and Waterdeep utilizes more modern production techniques, clipping the extended jam sessions. Songs like the title track and "Just Like You" are the most obviously worship-sounding numbers which fulfill the two most important but often overlooked aspects of worship for a community of believers: they're actually able to be sung, and the lyrics are universal enough to be applicable to a diverse group of listeners. After the opening track, "You Are So Good to Me," with its tender melody and understated power, "Psalm 18" heads back into familiar Waterdeep territory with a light off-kilter acoustic/bass groove and Lori's quirky vocals which turn gentle on the chorus.

The songwriting duties, split by husband and wife Don and Lori Chaffer, do well to blend the traditional language of the worship chorus with their own musical fusion of jazz, folk, and rock. For all their improvisational tendencies, Waterdeep is at its heart a very rhythmically grounded band, and this element is what moves the album along, each number full of rhythmic hooks, whether actually
from the rhythm section or from acoustic or electric guitar.

Though most worship albums attempt to succeed by either conforming to traditional Sunday morning fare or being radically non-conformist, this album is successful because it transfers Waterdeep's strengths as a band to songs which are beautifully written and passionately performed. Each song is a unique statement with appropriate instrumentation and production, from the hymn-like "When the Cold Wind Blows," which brings out Lori's sparkling vocals, to the crunching guitars of "My God Has Come to Save Me."

You Are So Good to Me is an album which toes the line between art and worship beautifully, making a jazz lick just as much a part of the worship experience as a praise chorus. While perhaps a departure from the usual Waterdeep sound, all the pieces are still there, in this case combined for a transparent and graceful worship album.

Glenn McCarty 5/19/2001


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