Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Michael W. Smith's contribution to music. With a career still going strong, he's already left a legacy, garnering success from mainstream pop radio and especially the Christian industry. In recent years, Smith has left a lasting impression on the modern worship movement with two successful live worship albums and a DVD. Now with securing a reputation as a moving worship leader under his impressive belt, Smith is returning to the style of music fans have come to know him for - pop.
Healing Rain is Smith's first pop record in over five years. In 1999, he released This Is Your Time and in 2000 released his first instrumental project Freedom, which was followed by Worship and Worship Again. The album begins with "Here I Am," a strong and rather catchy pop song about surrendering our lives and will to Jesus. The title track is a beautiful anthemic ballad about restoration while "Live Forever" is a melodic yearning for heaven that suffers slightly from somewhat out-of-place and overzealous synthesizers.
"Hang On" is a fun and soulful signature upbeat Smitty track. Oddly, the synthesizers feel at least ten years too late and give the track a somewhat early 90's feel. Written as an upbeat celebration of his daughter Whitney, "Fly To The Moon" is a highlight and a great contemporary rock track that offers a fine conglomeration of sounds and moods. "Human Spark" is a great ballad inspired by the events of September 11th, while "We Can't Wait Any Longer" features the Ugandan Children's Choir and is a call to action to battle poverty. "I Am Love," written by Taylor Sorensen (who is on Smith's own Rocketown Records) is inspired by The Passion Of The Christ and is a fabulous anthem of love from Jesus to His children. Smitty's own take on Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" precedes the quirky, synth-heavy "Eagles Fly," before ending the album with the beautifully orchestrated "All I Want."
Michael W. Smith has had nothing short of an incredible career and Healing Rain is a fine 18th installment to his growing collection of works. Although not a perfect or especially innovative venture, Healing Rain has enough strong moments and memorable songs on it to make it well worth checking out.- Review date: 10/24/04, written by John DiBiase
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