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March 2003 Pick of the Month

Open Wide This Window
Artist: GlassByrd
Label: Word Records
Length: 13 tracks at 52:55 minutes

Marc Byrd is an accomplished songwriter, producer, singer, and musician. He's married to Christine Glass, another accomplished songwriter, singer, and performer. With all that talent and gifting in one house, something pretty special comes out of the front door, or in this case, out of the window.

Byrd was the leader of alternative rock band Common Children and Glass comes from her own well-reviewed solo career. Now recording together under the moniker GlassByrd (formerly Adore), the two have flown to heights and hype that neither knew separately. 

Setting the scene for the record, "This Window" is a clearly different, highly stylized, alternative take on meditative worship music. The song speaks of opening a window to let in the fresh air of God's goodness. It seems that the window was closed and the shade drawn until the storm was over, the clouds broke and now it's time to open the window and enjoy the clean new scent of grace. The open window can let things in, but it is also a way out. The duo sings songs of taking one's faith into the world, to the one who needs to know that God is good. Song's like "Wake Up," "Wounded Healer," "Peace To You," call the listener to consider how God has touched and changed them, and how that can be the spark in another's healing. But mostly the window is open to let the light in. The bulk of the record is meditations and worship. "Weight Of The World" is a powerful song about the cross. Other song titles, "I Stand Amazed," "Everywhere I Turn," "I Love You More," "Mercy," "God of Wonders," "Jesus You Are Beautiful," give you some idea of the nature of the rest of the record. A beautiful blend of alternative and pop music, along with the combination of Marc Byrd's sandy smooth rock voice with Christine Glass's striking and trained voice make this a special record indeed. The last song out of the window is "Peace To You," a lovely benediction along the ideological lines of the Lost Dog's "Breathe Deep The Breath Of God," with the lyric:

For the weak and broken down
For the lost souls not yet found
For the hopeful left in doubt
Peace to you, Peace….
GlassByrd opens the window to a pensive but gentle worship, flying high to meet the challenge of a cool praise record, Open Wide This Window is a star. 

Tony Lafianza 1/31/2003

Open Wide This Window, the Word Records debut of Glassbyrd, (the husband/wife team of Christine Glass and Mark Byrd) sure does not sound like a typical praise album.   Hence, the its appeal. Separating itself from the majority of worship music doled out to the churched faithful, Open Wide This Window  offers thirteen tracks of well-crafted praise pop that avoids the trite and accentuates the profound. 

Co-produced by the Choir’s Steve Hindalong and Byrd, this album features the foundation of Byrd’s signature guitar work,and the velvety, sometimes spacey, lyrics of Glass.  Byrd adds his own melancholy, world-weary vocals to the project and they serve as a effective counterpart to Glass’ lilting contributions. 

Veteran song writers both, Glass and Byrd produce lyrics that are accessible, yet articulate.  Penning such artful lyrics as, "If you look within my friend, I see holy things, Faith and hope begin, however thin , These are holy things," they set a tone for deeper introspection. 

Standout tracks include the happy, hopeful "Weight of the World" and the driving "Wake Up." My only complaint is the unnecessary addition to this album is the ubitiquious "God of Wonders," already a church worship favorite. Aside from this slight shortcoming , this album is a needed addition to ranks of the praise album. 

Noel Lloyd 3/29/2003

Marc Byrd gained notice with Common Children, releasing two LPs on the Tattoo label before independently releasing The In-Between Time in 2001.  Christine Glass also released her alt-pop debut Human on Tattoo, followed by Rustproof's Love and Poverty, co-produced by Byrd.  Now married, the pair have found success writing/producing/performing with the gospel market's City on a Hill series.  

Open Wide targets the same audience.  As such, it's somewhat tame for fans of either artist's previous work.  Still, the sounds and production are more adventurous than what generally drifts through the stained glass windows, and the lyrics demonstrate craft and care.  Common Children's Nirvana-styled rage (i.e. Skywire's "Hate") is entirely absent, but echoes of their Spiritualized-meets-Verve atmospherics found in Delicate Fade's "Blue Raft" ring through "This Window."  Byrd's affection for Paul Westerberg surfaces in "Wake Up" and the romantic "Tonight." With “Mercy,” he remembers the days when Common Children were touring, flat broke and sleeping in the Southwestern desert, but recognized the good in a tenuous situation.  "Your hope is fading faster than mine tonight, so let me take your burden for a while," soothes Glass on "Wounded Healer."  This isn't the pre-fab pious, glassy-eyed fodder clogging your local CCM station.

Jeff Elbel 10/14/2003

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