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Simply Spectacular
Artist: Various
Label: Alliance Music (UK)
Length: 15 tracks/56:06 minutes

For the past three years the "Simply..." series of samplers has provided a low-cost introduction to the pop end of the Christian music industry. This past summer's offering contains several worthy tunes, and is a fair cross-section of the genre, but lacks consistency.

The offerings from the pop-dance side of the musical spectrum are rather disappointing. Shine and Raze contribute predictable, clichéd tracks, while Montrel Darrett's urban flavor fails to convince. Another slight disappointment comes from SonicFlood. Hyped as alternative worship pioneers, their innovative style consists of little more than a worship-focus to their pop-rock music. Their contribution, "I Want to Know You" is not as weak as some others, but does not live up to the hype.

Other aspects of the album are less disappointing, if not particularly dazzling. Switchfoot's "New Way To Be Human" presents a catchy and intelligent opener, while Chasing Furies's "Thicker" brings in some more alternative class. Smalltown Poets' "There Is Only You" is fairly catchy, and Jennifer Knapp's "Undo Me" is a well-executed mesh of acoustic guitar and a more dynamic electric sound.

The album's strongest selling point is the sneak preview of Audio Adrenaline's new album which is due for release in October. The preview reveals a mixture of their recent pop-rock direction with programmed beats, resulting in a contemporary edge that seems a little overblown.

A collection with a few promising songs, this will appeal to those looking for a cross-section of the pop side of CCM. Unfortunately the standouts are few and the album's promised "out of this world tunes" are few.

James Stewart  10/16/99


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