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Reflection of Something
Artist: Todd Agnew
Label: Ardent/Epic
Length: 15/65:18

Fifteen years ago, the CCM world produced a man I believed very strongly in, a man who knew his flaws, didn't hide them, yet produced some of the best lyrics and music I have ever heard in this genre.  Many have tried to fill the niche Rich Mullins vacated almost eight years ago.  Some, like Andrew Peterson, Chris Rice, Sara Groves, and Mitch McVicker, have done a lot to recall the "realness" of Mullins. 
I don't know if that was Todd Agnew's intent when he wrote the songs for Reflection of Something, or if it was coincidental that he appears of the cover art unshaven, barefoot, in a comfortable pair of jeans.  What I do know is that this disc stands out in a time where much of CCM is formulaic, cookie cutter, color by numbers fluff designed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator. 
Agnew has a gruff raspiness to his vocals that places him in the general area of Mac Powell, Russ Taff, Jeremy Camp, and Allies-era Bob Carlisle.  "Something Beautiful" reflects a rough edge in his personality as well, as he wonders aloud how God "could fall in love with [him]", while he struggles to find something attractive about himself. 
"Blood on My Hands" addresses the crucifixion, the blame shared by all Christians, and incorporates the old hymn "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross" into it chorus.  "Isaiah 6" is directly quoted from the Bible, and employs a huskiness in vocal quality that adequately portrays the awe Isaiah felt at seeing the Lord.  
"Where Were You?" is a depiction of God's answer to Job's complaints, and perhaps the answer to ours as well.  Done in a Michael Been (The Call) style, it addresses the questions we have no right to ask, and reminds us of how small we truly are in the grand scheme of things.  
The most challenging song on the disc is "My Jesus."  It cuts to the bone in its questions, of how we wish to be seen by God: 

Who is this that you follow
 This picture of the American dream
 If Jesus was here, would you walk right by on
 The other side, or fall down and worship at his Holy feet...
'cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think he'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud... 
Agnew is careful to include himself in his indictment of casual Christianity, saying "I want to be like you Jesus, but I don't know how."  He is correct in his assumption that our lives are "Reflections of Something," and is clear on what he wants his life to reflect.  This disc serves as a reminder of what it should be in our lives. 
Brian A. Smith
10 September 2005



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