The Phantom Tollbooth

Things I Prayed For
Artist:  Eli
Produced by David Zaffiro
Label:  ForeFront Records
Length:  43:28/10 tracks

Eli is one of ForeFront Records's newest artists. This project is ten songs through which Eli attempts to share the gospel to a hungry world and, at the same time, share some personal things about his own life. It's a story of a life that has dealt with a broken home, rebelliousness, drugs, and even periods of homelessness, all coming together under God's grace and focusing back on Him.

The title track, "Things I've Prayed For," is a musical journey through life and its major concerns. This tune kind of bounces you through the artist's life as a child, teen, and now. This song is easy to relate to because to a certain degree, each of us has thoughts concerning forgiveness, our image, our family, and our future. Hopefully, we also remember from this song, "Years go by and make me see that there's no room for regret."

"The Lumberjack Song" is a spirited song that causes the listener to look back on his life and how it was lived. The wind instruments of this song add to the wonderful wide-eyed images of heaven. The story is about a man who dies and realizes that now he wants to go back and build a better mansion. This time his home would be built with his heart.

Although "Morning has Broken" is a reverent version of Cat Stevens's song and features beautiful piano playing, the song drags. The lyrics to this song, along with the lyrics to "Tired Shoes" and "Righteous Beggars," just didn't catch my attention, leaving me to focus on the music. While this can be good at times, it caused my mind to wander.

"Captain" is a song about allowing God to be the captain of our lives and trust Him not to allow anything to happen to us. This tune helps communicate how God's grace can work despite our feeble lives. Eli's raspy voice along with the music of the song fit together well to help portray the idea of a captain out at sea.

"King of the Hill" is an imagined account of the crucifixion, going beyond the accounts in Scripture. The song begins with Jesus asking that the cup pass from Him and ends with His acceptance of what must be done. The song is slightly on the slow side, but the tempo fits the mood of the song and the human emotions that Eli imagines Christ having had as He died on a lonely hill.

The slowest, saddest, most thoughtful song on the album rounds it out.  "God Weeps Too," my favorite song on the album, is an emotional song that reminds you of the evil in this world. Things go wrong at times and we are left questioning. Skillfully tapping into those feelings of despair, Eli writes,

I absolutely loved some of the songs; others confused me. Their well written lyrics and matching sounds filled me with great emotion. However, other tunes lost me because the lyrics had a tad too much imagery to keep my attention. Eli has a very promising future in music. I look forward to hearing his next CD or even seeing him in concert one day. Eli's songs sound very familiar to me. Perhaps it is because they are so acoustic driven or possibly even because Eli sounds like a cross of several familiar artists like Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Keith Green, and even Rich Mullins.
By Cathy Courtwright (10/4/98)