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  The Purest Place
Artist: Watermark 
Label: Rocketown 
Length: 51:33

Watermark {members Nathan and Christy Nockels have} drawn from the well of their life experiences to show how God is at work in their lives. The Purest Place, the duo's 4th CD, is a soul-drawing drink of life-giving water and a wonderful act of praise to the Lord. 

The Purest Place is loaded with delicious melodies, washing keys, arresting bass lines, and lyrics that show such respect, admiration, and pure love for the Lord. The glue here is Christy's vocal. It is quite astonishing, really--incredibly expressive, at once powerful and subdued, aching, and simple. Thoroughly captivating.  Add to that Nathan's meticulous production.  Always warm, sparkling, crisp, and thoughtful. Never overdone. Take, for instance, "Captivate Us." One guitar, one lead vocal, one harmony voice that is just perfect for the song. Combined with lyrics like "devastate us with your presence," you have a jaw-dropping presentation. Watermark's The Purest Place is a wonderful and memorable listening experience. 

Bob Felberg  7/31/2004

Artist: Watermark 
Label: Rocketown Records
Length: 13/51:43

Husband and wife team Nathan and Christy Nockels form the crux of CCM group Watermark.  Nathan has recently become better known as a producer in CCM
circles (Point of Grace, Matt Redman), and that may or not be a contributing factor to this album ­ he seems to focus of producing a “radio friendly” sound, which he does quite well.  Unfortunately, he is almost unheard vocally on The Purest Place, relegating himself to understated backup vocals and acoustic guitar work.

Rocketown Records has found a formula in that they know what will play in Christian radio circles.  This should not be seen as a critique ­ much of what is produced there is of high quality (Chris Rice, George Rowe).  The lyrics are unquestionably about God.  At times, though, one wonders if the musicians miss the point of what real life is like.  Watermark’s latest is somewhat of a shift from previous albums like _Constant_, from songs about dealing with life to more praise-centered, worshipful tunes.

“Proem” is a spoken word piece by the couple’s three year old son.  “My Covering” walks the line vocally between Jaci Velasquez and Sara Groves, and is a likely radio staple when “Glory of Your Name” fades in popularity. Several of the songs here could be radio singles, but would be hard to separate sonically from their predecessors.

“Knees to the Earth” begs for forgiveness and illustrates humility that is often absent before God.  “Come as You Are” features Nathan’s vocals more prominently than any other song here, and reminds us repeatedly that “grace covers shame”.  “Mended” speaks to repaired relationships and the concept of God as healer of things that humans had long given up on.  “Soli Deo Gloria” is drawn from Bach’s habit of writing “SDG” on his compositions, and is a praise song built around the concept.

The Purest Place is a polished, almost too clean album that will resonate with CCM radio listeners more than anyone else.  Newcomers to Watermark would do well to check out their earlier recordings first, then come back to The Purest Place later on.  But then, radio rarely reflects the critics’ choice, does it?

Brian A. Smith
7 September 2004



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