Few contemporary Christian artists have impacted the world quite like Amy Grant has. And as this incredible artist approaches her thirtieth anniversary of making music for the masses, she has returned to the city where she had performed her first show ever to record her first live album in twenty five years. Recorded live at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX, Grant creates an intimate presence on stage, presenting classics old and new spanning her impressive career.
Live projects are tricky because they tend to possess a short lifespan. There is a wide range to the kinds of quality they can display -- from the in-the-audience feel to the so-polished-you-forget-it's-live. Grant's is perfectly the latter, and to her benefit. The in-concert chatter between songs is preserved as well as the hints of imperfections in her voice due to age and experience, but it all works together wonderfully for this project. The sound for each song is unbelievably crisp, creating new versions of old favorites without having that studio polish. It's intimate without forfeiting quality. This may be one of the most replayable live albums to date.
The song selection is a pleasant surprise as well. While I admit I have never followed Amy Grant's career too closely, I've grown up hearing her songs around everywhere. The selection is a nice mix of old and new, spiritual and romantic, representing all sides of her career. Time Again... Amy Grant Live opens with the anthemic and unforgettable "Lead Me On," before Grant invites everyone to dance to her irresistibly catchy "Good For Me." Grant's voice fluctuates at times between spot-on and a little raspy, but still sounds good from song to song.
Between selections, Grant offers little insights on some of her songs. Probably the one I found the most interesting is her revelation that her hit love song "Baby Baby" was in fact originally written for her daughter. And while the acoustic-driven performances and comments from Amy add personal touches, something is slightly lost without visual accompaniment to the audio portion of the live performance. As a bonus treat, a DVD sampler of the full-length DVD that is being released alongside this CD has been included, offering live video of "Stay For Awhile," "Take A Little Time," "Thy Word," and "Lucky One," which unfortunately was not chosen for the audio portion of the project. The video, which is shot in a very modern style (if not too ambitiously), allows the listener to see the audience, the stage setup (which features Grant's actual living room couch and painting that is hung above it), and performers. This little extra completes the package.
The only drawback to the packaging is the exclusion of six songs that can only be acquired in video form on the full-length DVD (sold separately). "Lucky One," "Carry You," "My Father's Eyes," "El Shaddai," "If These Walls Could Speak," and "Big Yellow Taxi" are all absent from the audio portion of the album. On the other hand, the CD offers only one song the DVD does not, and that's "Believe," which was the theme from Grant's reality show Three Wishes. However, those missing tracks are my only real minor squawk about this record.
Time Again... Amy Grant Live is a long overdue return for the singer to the live recording format. Amy Grant fans and music enthusiasts alike will likely take interest in this release. Quite honestly, I can say with confidence that Time Again... Amy Grant Live has the best sound for a live album I've heard yet.- Review date: 9/24/06, written by John DiBiase
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