40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Criticism from a true fan,
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This review is from: Wonder (Audio CD)Let me open by saying that I have every album Michael has ever made. That's right...everything from "Project" up through this current offering. He was my inspiration to continue piano lessons as a kid, and was an early inspiration in songwriting. I've seen him in concert several times and think he is a genuine guy and a great entertainer.
The Smitty/Wayne Kirkpatrick songwriting duo was incredible. The lyrics fit the music, and still carried a moving message. Since Michael has started writing with others, I think the songwriting has suffered. Musically this album is rich and powerful...which is Michael's work, no doubt. But the lyrics just don't fit anymore. It's like he is trying to get these deep messages across, then copying someone's words onto music that doesn't complement it. On Wonder (Not Far Away) Michael is talking the verses, "Everybody has enough to bear / and everyone feels the strain / there's a lot that really isn't fair / but it isn't more than you can take." Not a bad topic for a song, but you can't just take lyrics and say them over some music. Michael did a similar song a decade ago with Kirkpatrick lyrics called "Give Me Love" but the quirky lyrics fit the rapid-fire delivery style. Not so with Wonder.
There is just a lot of "talking" going on, and not singing. The message on "Leave" is lost because there is really no melody at all. It's like reading a poem with music behind it. The trick to pop songwriting is to take words and craft them into a soaring melody - the words and the melody should be inseparable. Think of Michael's earlier works: Place in This World, Give it Away (perfect lyrical fit with that song), Secret Ambition, I'll Lead You Home, Never Been Unloved. These songs soar because the lyrics are lifted up by the melodies.
I appreciate that Smitty is trying to stay relevant in the Christian music scene, and that he is working with a variety of artists (Leeland, Matthew West). But I think he shines the most when it's just him and the piano, cutting to the core of the song. The best song on Wonder is "Welcome Home." Beautiful melody and piano chording. If he came out with an album of vocals and piano, all written by him, I can guarantee it would be his best work in a decade.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2010 2:22:13 PM PDT
S. Hartman says:
great review. spot on imo. i also have all his albums and prefer Smitty/Wayne Kirkpatrick songwriting duo along with Amy Grant too.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2011 11:07:35 PM PST
Wow. I think your perspective has caused you to completely miss some of what this release is about. Michael IS NOT trying to stay relevant in the Christian scene, he's grown beyond that sophomoric tendency that some have. This CD is about God and our lives, as messed up as they can sometimes get. No shallow Place in This World Lyrics, but rather watching your grandmother die or watching the repo man take apart your life. Is God real? I'm waiting for him but why won't He comfort me, those kind of experiences. This CD is not about entertainment or shallow feel good anthems. It's about coming to the end of your rope and falling into God's arms.
Leave? You don't understand the horror of it. It's not trying to be a pop song, to entertain. He's trying to reach the hurting and the lost.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2011 7:43:30 AM PST
Levi Gangi says:
I love how instead of just commenting on my review, you feel the need to tell me how messed up my perspective is. Thanks. If you re-read my review, I actually referred to his lyrics on Wonder as "deep". I'm not criticizing the content. They are meaningful and talk about real issues (and by the way, I doubt Michael would agree with Place in This World being shallow...he talks about his early lyrics in books that he's written throughout the years). I'm not saying this album is terrible, I'm just saying that his earlier work has a lot better lyrical/musical symmetry. For example, "I'll Lead You Home". I can sing that song at the top of my lungs and it has deep personal meaning to me and I'm sure to many others. A soaring melody. Anyway, sorry to upset you.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2011 10:19:54 AM PST
His earlier works lacked the maturity of this cd. If one is into today's entertainment values then you may prefer his earlier works which were more shallow and touched people in more of a surface way. Kind of like you perceiving my earlier comments to be some kind of insult. At any rate, I hope you find some music you can really sing to.
Posted on Nov 22, 2011 8:43:07 PM PST
M. D'Amico says:
I agree that the Smitty/Wayne Kirkpatrick was incredible and I miss it. Wayne was involved in production and I think he inspired and pushed Michael to his very best. They were more than collaborators, friends, and you could tell.
Since then, Michael has evolved in his sound, style and focus and that's good in an artist's career but I feel it's not in the same league as before. On previous albums pre-2000 and also the Worship albums, Michael had a clean and pristine sound and production. On this record he tries to roughen his voice and I don't feel it has worked well. I agree about the lyrics, they may have deep meaning, but not necessarily be best in songwriting.
Posted on Dec 28, 2011 7:36:04 PM PST
Just like you, I have everything he did, except my collection ended after Healing Rain -- a very weak offering with the best song on there being a remake! MWS has admitted over the years he isn't the greatest lyricist, but unlike in the past he hasn't surrounded himself with the talent to keep up. Perhaps its the deplorable state of Christian music in general. Has ANYTHING decent been done since the end of the '90s? I have hundreds of Christian CDs. Maybe 4 of them done in the last decade.
To people like Sharkman who think this (and other) CD(s) is(are) not about entertainment, I suggest that you look up the definition of that word before making silly statements like that. Only an idiot or someone truly uninformed would suggest that Christian music shouldn't (or doesn't) have a great spiritual application, but you don't listen to Christian music strictly for spiritual guidance. There are other things like prayer and bible study for that. Yes, Christian music is (or should be) uplifting, but it has to be entertaining or its useless. I can write very spiritual lyrics and music that no one would really want to listen to (actually, I HAVE done exactly that). But if I stick it on a CD and sell it as music, there is a reasonable expectation that it will be entertaining. Otherwise, what's the point?
There were many, many hurting and lost reached by the "immature" music that was actually good. Sharkman's whole argument is just embarrassingly weak.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2011 9:24:08 PM PST
If you are going to name call at least be accurate about what I said. I am not presenting an argument, if that's all you got out of this issue then I invite you to buy plenty of "Best of" compilations from the late 90's. I also never called MWS's earlier works immature. I also never said christian music should not be entertaining, but if that's all you want, do not buy this CD. It touches the spirit on a far deeper level.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2012 3:18:08 PM PST
There was absolutely no name calling. Using the term, idiot, in a sentence doesn't mean I called you that -- I didn't. An idiot would say the moon is made of green cheese. Surely you would agree with that. Don't be so sensitive -- if you're going to post an opinion, be able to deal with the criticism of it.
There was nothing inaccurate about what I said. Contrary to your assertion, you stated, "His earlier works lacked the maturity of this cd." Unless you're suggesting that you meant the older works were "mature," and the newer works are "really mature," which is nonsense, yes, you did assert the earlier works were immature. How in the world could anyone draw any other conclusion? And it is you who is misquoting: no one can read what I said and reasonably argue anyone said Christian music should only be entertaining. Again, that's simply ONE element of it.
Explain your last statement: HOW does it touch the spirit on a deeper level? Just because its newer or was produced in an era dominated by P&W doesn't mean its more spiritual. "It touched me deeper..." is one thing. But that's totally subjective. You're trying to make that into an objective point (for whatever reason) and it failed.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2012 3:40:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 23, 2012 3:46:57 PM PST
You used the term idiot, and you called my opinions silly, spin it all you want. You are attacking another's opinion with rudeness and bluster. M. D'Amico got his point across without it, but you name me and then let 'er rip. Maybe you should work out your stress with vigorous exercise. I'll not explain myself further, if you don't get it then you don't get it, just like you don't get "Wonder".
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2013 10:37:33 PM PDT
W. Mcdonald says:
Hi Scott, the way most Christian musicians get started is as worship bands for mega-churches. There music is written for worship & while spiced up for recording perhaps, it is still locked in a very restrictive box. Our "Christian" radio station the Fish, will play several versions of the same popular worship song & tell listeners they have a better variety of music. Worse, one neg side effect is that in more & more Churches, there is total confusion & worship leading more & more means giving a short concert. Pretty sad, but I'm in the same boat, I've bought a few songs as down loads, but I haven't bought a Christian music album in over a decade. I'm just thankful a lot of the old stuff is available now as MP3's.
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