Since its creation in 1994, Gotee records was well known in the Christian music community for finding and producing urban hip-hop/rap acts, such as Grits and Out of Eden, in the CCM community. So when it was announced in 1997 that Gotee's newest find was a girl from Kansas named Jennifer who sang folk songs, many were quick to naysay Toby McKheean's decision. But it wasn't long before the naysayers who had critiqued his decision were soon lining up at the doors to grab Jennifer Knapp's debut album, Kansas, in December of 1997. Produced by tobyMac himself as well as Mark Stuart from Audio Adrenaline, the three came together to put out what was named one of the greatest Christian albums in history, offering 12 fresh cuts the next one seemingly better than the next.
The album starts off with the haunting intro "Faithful to Me" (which is later reprised in its entirety at the end of the album). "Whole Again" is a personal yet relatable song about crying out to God for His undying love--one of the running themes throughout the whole album. "Undo Me" went on to become not only the first single and one of the biggest tracks off the album, but also one of the biggest of Jennifer's carrier. The blend of southern rock rifts and raw lyrics such as "Abba Father You must wonder why/More times than Peter I have denied./Three nails and a cross to prove/I owe my Life eternally to You," made it very clear that Jennifer wasn't afraid to share her brokenness nor the hope she had found through it.
"Trinity," about God's forgiveness and redemption, is a straight ahead folk song with brilliant background vocals by Mark Stuart. "In The Name" is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, while "His Grace Is Sufficient" once again reveals Jennifer's vulnerability before God. The powerful fan favorite "Martyrs and Thieves" follows, while "Romans," the most radio friendly of all the tracks on this album, once again delivers the message of forgiveness (lyrically taken most out of, of course, the book of Romans). "Refine Me," the only track on the album not penned by Jennifer, is a personal cry for redemption in the blood of the Lamb. "Hold Me Now" tackles the subject of the woman who came to Jesus with the vial of oil to pour on His feet, later going into the cry of recompense from all of the Body of Christ. It's one of her most lyrically open songs. "Visions" slows the album down once again while the full reprise of "Faithful To Me" closes the album on a mellow, yet optimistic note.
It is no accident that this album was named one of the best. Kansas not only garnered Jennifer her loyal fanbase, several Dove nominations and awards, but more that that, it offered the listener the message of hope, the message of the love of our Father who will always take us back and the forgiveness and freedom we now have in Him. It offers a message that was not only relevant 10 years ago, but a message that is still very much relevant today and tomorrow as well.
Review date: 9/16/09, written by Sarah Fine for Jesusfreakhideout.com