Add to the Beauty
Some Christian pop music subordinates music to message, taking cookie-cutter chord progressions and cheap emotional gimmicks and pressing them into pastoral service. It's music that has much more to do with preaching than with communicating, and that is intended strictly for an audience of the already-converted. Then there's the Christian pop music that seems embarrassed by its doctrinal content, hiding it in double-talk about love that could as easily be physical as spiritual. There's a place for both kinds of music, it seems, but much more satisfying is the music that neither apologizes for its witness nor underestimates the importance of the tunes and arrangements and grooves. That kind of music is much rarer, and it's the kind that Sara Groves has become adept at producing. On her latest album she continues to sing like a wonderful combination of Dar Williams and Dolores O'Riordan, and her songs continue to be a revelatory blend of bell-toned pop guitars, judiciously applied strings, sturdy rock & roll grooves, and hook-laden melodies. Subtle and artful elements include the oboes and drum loops on "When It Was Over," the gorgeously understated slide guitar solo on "Loving a Person," and the combination of gospel-tinged backing vocals and Beatles-worthy chord progression on the gently remonstrative "How Can I Tell." If you already know you hate Christian pop music, then nothing here will change your mind. But if you just wish it were more consistently transcendent, then this album will give you cause for hope.