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December 2001 Pick of the Month

In the Company of Angels: A Call to Worship
Artist: Caedmon's Call
Label: Essential Records
Length: 12 tracks/47:21 minutes

There seems to be a formula in the way records are produced nowadays in the CCM world: overpromoted or surprise breakthrough debut album, rushed follow up, live album, greatest hits album (with three new songs), solo album if applicable, Christmas album, and finally, worship album.

Caedmon's Call is one of the better groups to emerge from the corporate mill that affects 90% of CCM. In the Company of Angels is the band's worship album. In a way, it is a lot like the Sparrow Records release Coram Deo from the early 90s: it features a lot of different writers and singers, with a few guests thrown in, with nontraditional style worship songs that will find their way into open-minded churches. Oh, and one other thing similar to Coram Deo: this album is pretty darned good.

"Oh Lord Your Love" is a Rich Mullins song that never was released during his career. Cliff Young has added some work to the musical arrangement, but the lyrics are pure Mullins:

 Oh Lord, I give You all I have
 But it seems so little
 When You have given me so much
 I come to You with empty hands
 And a heart that's fragile
 You come to me with a wealth of love
Kemper Crabb tunes, "The Danse" and "Warrior," are here as well -- the former featuring a pennywhistle. "God of Wonders," previously done on City on a Hill by Third Day, is also featured and gets an adult contemporary treatment here. A few old Isaac Watts hymns, "I Boast No More" and "Laden With Guilt" are updated and performed amazingly well by Sandra McCracken.

"We Delight" and "Who You Are" resemble a stronger version of Andrew Peterson vocally, while "Before There Was Time" recalls the harmonies of FFH. "Thy Mercy" has a great string arrangement by Ed Cash, and "God Who Saves" seems reminiscent of Twila Paris.

Definitely a mood piece, In the Company of Angels is an album I can picture in the background while studying the Bible, with the lyrics directing me to different Scriptures.

Brian A. Smith  11/18/2001

From start to finish, The Company of Angels, A Call to Worship is an ear pleaser, much like Caedmon's Call's previous work. Full of powerful vocals, inspiring lyrics and beautiful melodies, this album is one you'll listen to over and over.

The album is undoubtedly worship oriented. Most songs are slow- to mid-tempo, such as "God Who Saves," "Carry Your Love," "I Boast No More" and "God of Wonders," with a few upbeat songs mixed in, such as "We Delight," "Thy Mercy," "Warrior," and "The Danse."

All the God-glorifying lyrics reflect Caedmon's history as a worship band, making this an encouraging and uplifting album to listen to. Another strong contribution to the sound is, of course, the wide variety of instruments and vocals (they've got some beautiful harmonies). The instruments vary from piano, accordion, electric guitars, string arrangements, etc., creating quite a diverse sound throughout the album.

This is definitely an album you'll find yourself repeating and singing along to. You may even find yourself doing the occasional dance!

Jessica Heikoop   11/25/2001 

This new album by Caedmon's Call is a worship project, so in addition to the studio-produced tracks, there are a few live tracks scattered in.  On the whole, it is a solid album, and shows that the coffeehouse stylings of Caedmon's Call lend themselves well to a worship-oriented project.  There's not much of this album that would have sounded out of place on any of their other albums.  The vocals are traded off between the various singers as on the other albums, and the instrumental work is solid if not spectacular. Among the highlights of the disc are a cover of "Warrior" by Kemper Crabb and "God Of Wonders," a remake of the track from the City On a Hill album. If you are already a Caedmon's Call fan, this disc is essential.  If not, it might be worth checking out.

Alex Klages  12/1/2001

When I received this CD in the mail and first gave it a listen, I was tempted to slap it with a so-so rating of 3 tocks, quickly review it, and get on with life. Thankfully, life got busy, and I didn't have time to review the album for about two weeks. During that time, I gave In the Company of Angels several listens. Now, as I write this, I can say that Caedmon's Call's new worship CD is worthy of your listening ear.

My initial reaction of dismissing In the Company of Angels as simply another worship album was based on the fact that I truly feel that worship music has been overdone simply because it is a profitable genre. The fact that Caedmon's Call never led worship in any of the three concerts I have seen them play didn't help much either. However, I learned that the band actually began leading worship at their church in Houston, Texas. They state in their press kit that their goal in their music all along has been to lead people to desire to worship. Now they are simply leading people in worship.

The lyrics on In the Company of Angels are rich and much better than might be expected from a basic worship album. Three of the songs are actually old hymns ("Thy Mercy," "I Boast No More," and "Laden with Guilt") and create some of the best moments on the album. Many songs are contributed by songwriters who are not members of Caedmon's Call but part of their big family. These include Rich Mullins, Sandra McCracken, and Kemper Crabb. The inclusion of the hit song "God of Wonders" is not surprising, but I am very grateful that Caedmon's Call used a live version of the song. The tune "Warrior" was recorded live as well.

Once again, Caedmon's Call has recorded an album that is extremely rich musically. The band has always had a large amount of percussion, known mainly for its trash cans. This time around the percussion has more of a global feel to it, taking the next step musically that the band needed for this worship album.

I have to say that I'm proud of Caedmon's Call for pulling this album off well, even though it does seem almost more than coincidental that they release it right now. I guess this proves that sometimes trends can bring about good things, though it may be once in a blue moon.

Trae Cadenhead 12/9/2001


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