The past few years have shown the immense popularity of worship music. As new projects and singles hit the shelves, there has to be some kind of worship project separate from the pack. The Message: Psalms, a collaboration of over fifteen different Christian artists, just may be the answer. And as expected by the album's title, all sixteen tracks either directly quote the Psalms or make blatant reference to the Scripture verses.
Four of The Message: Psalms' tracks, including the opener, are completely spoken word, simply reading the Psalms. For the rest of the record, a wide range of vocalists and bands take center stage with their original work for this project. Sarah Macintosh and Phil Wickham introduce Psalms' first musical endeavors with the Celtic-inspired "Eyes for You (Psalm 141)." Many ballads and light pop tunes ensue such as Building 429's "Come Close (Psalm 69)" and Over the Rhine's "Flown Free (Psalm 129 & 124)." Chris Rice, Matt Wertz, and Dave Barnes all come together for "Can't Get Enough (Psalm 63)." On that particular song, it sounds as if too many male voices were blended, then spans a bit too long. Newcomer John David Webster also brings his pop/worship feel to the project ("Run To You (Psalm 31)"). Elsewhere, Shaun McDonald delivers an acoustic-driven style on "My Salvation (Psalm 71)," save for his signature spoken word vocals. Others such as Ginny Owens, Venus Hum, Jeremy Casella, Sandra McCracken, and Andrew Osenga all make guest appearances at some point through The Message....
Both Phillip and Natalie LaRue, formerly of the popular brother/sister duo LaRue, make solo come back appearances. As well as being credited with producing Psalms, Phillip returns with "How Faithful You Are (Psalm 89)." Natalie's "Nothing Can Compare With God (Psalm 113)" is nicely done with her mature voice singing over a soft piano, complete with a "Hallelujah, hallelujah" finish as an appropriate ending for the record.
Kendall Payne's "Wait (Psalm 40)" came as one of project's greatest surprises. Rather than a piano-based ballad similar to much of The Message..., Payne shakes things up a bit by going the "rock chick" route instead. Shortly thereafter, Rachael Lampa's "Flag (Psalm 57 & 108)" finds itself as another notable tune. Here Lampa displays her incredible vocal abilities with the song's R&B/pop vibe. Both Payne and Lampa perform quite well, crafting two of Psalms' best offerings.
In the end, The Message: Psalms could be considered "a mixed bag"- some artists succeed greatly while others seem to just miss the mark. However, those who might be searching for a worship project out of the ordinary won't want to miss the chance to give The Message a listen.- Review date: 11/17/05, written by Lauren Summerford
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