In 2003, when Jennifer Knapp announced her forthcoming hiatus, no one seemed to know how long she would be absent from the Christian rock scene. What fans did know, however, was that this artist would be sorely missed. Knapp had accomplished much in the six years leading to that point. Three successful studio projects, a "best of " collection, numerous hit singles, and a Grammy nomination only showed some of the ground covered in this singer/songwriter/ guitarist's career. Though she toured extensively in that time, some of us weren't fortunate enough to catch one of her performances. Good news for those new or young fans- Live gives an excellent look into Knapp's rocking live shows.
The most interesting bit of trivia behind Live was that up until sometime in mid-2005, Live was never a planned record. But when guitarist and popular producer Mark Townsend stumbled across some tapes he made while on Jennifer's first headlining gig, "The Back Forty Tour," an album was born. Recorded over the course of four concerts, Live is one of the best rock records in recent memory.
Setting the stage for Live is opener "Romans." Immediately, Jennifer's raw, raspy vocals and excellent guitar skills draw the listener in. Instead of simply recreating the recorded version of that song (which appeared on her debut Kansas), Knapp and her band rock things up a bit by adding in new electric guitar parts rather than the violin from the original. From there, Jennifer shows she is more than capable of reaching into other musical genres with the country-flavored "Lay It Down." "Whole Again" then leads nicely into a series of acoustic based tunes such as "When Nothing Satisfies," "Usher Me Down," and "The Way I Am." The stripped down "Martyrs and Thieves" and "A Little More," from Kansas and Lay It Down respectively, have been fan favorites, enduring the test of time.
While much of Live features Knapp on acoustic guitar, "His Grace Is Sufficient" is a highlight track with Jennifer rocking it out once again. Using this time to proudly acquaint the crowd with guitarist Townsend, bassist T-Bone Lucido, and drummer Derek Wyatt, each musician showed off their talents here inspiring cheers from an entertained audience and jesting from the enthusiastic front-girl. "Into You" is another one of Live's edgier tracks, which winds down perfectly to bring the night to a close with the groundbreaking "Undo Me." The final tune was given a makeover for the concert version by adding blues guitar licks while Jennifer recreated the lyrics to the first part of the song before bringing back the Kansas version. Needless to say, it was the perfect way to end Live.
Jennifer Knapp, one of the most original and talented artists of our time, has proven again why her music is embraced so well. Though it seems Knapp may not be reappearing anytime soon, if she chooses to return one day, there is no doubt her music will be warmly welcomed.- Review date: 1/21/06, written by Lauren Summerford
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