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  Fruit of the Spirit
Artists: Various
Label: Vineyard Music
Times: 18 tracks/49:30 minutes

Producer Casey Corum leads Kids in Worship from Boise, ID (the co-title of Fruit of the Spirit) in a type of project that always leaves me in a quandary. Children's worship projects must be the hardest to produce, since they should be "grown up" enough for children to feel they're in an adult worship experience with musical arrangements that avoid being hokey or childish. Corum writes that kids' worship should be "both meaningful and fun" and notes that there are varying styles from "rap to ska to jazz to country to R&B to blues to rock etc." And too much of a variety of styles doesn't provide a musical bed of glue. On this project are reminiscences of Amy Grant, Darlene Zschech, Kirk Franklin, B.O.B., and even Jimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, and Bob Seger. Unfortunately, the sounds borrow too generously from styles that are simply too old (and perhaps old hat) for children to take an active, long-lasting part. That news aside, nearly every set of lyrics on Fruit of the! Spirit are genuinely excellent, beautifully representative of Vineyard Music, and there are perfect gems here. "Heart Full of Love" is a universal, fun singalong, and "The Mighty River" and "The Blessing" are clearly the standout upbeat worship songs which children can indeed enjoy singing for years -- into their adulthood. What would have made this project flow more smoothly is a more unified style of music, perhaps in the tracks of an updated version of the Songs from the Loft project. Fruit of the Spirit is a valiant effort which mostly misses the mark.

Olin Jenkins 7/15/2002



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