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Traveling Light - Songs from the 23rd Psalm
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Creative Trust Workshop (2002)
Length: 10 Tracks (43:33 minutes)
The parlaying of best-selling literary compositions into albums seems to be a fairly proliferative practice as of late, with texts as varied as Oswald Chambers' classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest and Bruce Wilkinson's contemporary best-seller, The Prayer of Jabez, receiving musical makeovers. Traveling Light, the fifth book by inspirational author Max Lucado to be set to music, stations veteran pop producer Brown Bannister and alternative Christian music mainstay Steve Hindalong at the songwriting helm. Given the duo's critically lauded, and commercially successful, back catalog of songwriting, performance and production work, expectations surrounding the joint effort run understandably high. To that end, Sara Groves and PFR's Joel Hanson lend their sparkling vocal talents to the infectious, acoustically-driven leadoff title track. In the same way, Jaci Velasquez's breathy and ethereal singing is the ideal decoration for the shimmering pop of "In Green Pastures." And Bryan White and Michael Tait hold back neither enthusiasm nor grit for their heartfelt respective cuts, "I Shall Not Want" and "Following Me."
But if the more upbeat tracks, by and large, hit the mark, the slower offerings fare less admirably. Amy Grant's "Gentle Shepherd" and Russ Taff's "Let it Flow," although agreeably-tempered, nonetheless lack a certain distinctiveness, while the Derri Daugherty and Ellie Bannister lullaby "Rest in Me" is similarly pleasant but forgettable. Likewise, the pairing of alternative pop/rock duo Fleming & John with the classic hymn "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" falls just short of forming a comfortable fit. To their credit, Hindalong and Bannister offer up a well-thought collection of lyrics, and their considerable production savvy ensures that Traveling Light features no lack of candidates for singles radio airplay. But, in the final analysis, the collaboration lacks the endearingly quirky individuality of Hindalong's previous efforts and the unrelenting pop sensibility of Bannister's top works, making it a worthwhile, but ultimately unessential, acquisition.
Bert Gangl 3/24/2002
To some, various artist albums may be getting annoying; with the City On a Hill series, Essential’s new God of Wonders album, and the list could continue on. But others, like myself, enjoy having the selection of various artist recordings. And now you can add one more in that selection!
Inspired by Max Lucado’s book with the same name, Traveling Light is full of some familiar artists. With names like Third Day’s Mac Powell, dc Talk’s Michael Tait, PFR’s Joel Hanson, Amy Grant, Jaci Velasquez, and more, you’d think this album would be one of the best various artists album. Well, because I only have the 8 track pre-release, I can’t give my full opinion, as the Michael Tait and Joel Hanson tracks aren’t on it. But judging from the partial pre-release, it’s a bit of a disappointment.
While it has some great/upbeat songs like the title track, Bryan White’s “I Shall Not Want,” Mac Powell’s “Mountain of God,” Russ Taff’s “Let It Flow,” and Jaci Velasquez’s “In Green Pastures,” the ballads don’t seem as full… which unfortunately makes you feel like skipping them.
Again, I’m missing some tracks, but out of everything I’ve listened to I can tell this album is one that could have been awesome from start to finish, but didn’t make it. Some songs just aren’t that good. But for those interested, if I could just name my top three favorite songs on this album, they would be Mac Powell, Russ Taff, and probably Michael Tait once I hear it. Especially Mac Powell, it is an amazing song! It may even be a reason to buy the album for you, just to have that song alone!
So in closing, don’t go rushing out to pick this album up when it hits store shelves on April 16th . I would recommend you listen to some clips on the Internet, or listen to it in the demo section at your local Christian Bookstore first, then decide if you like it from there.
Josh McConnell 04/3/2002