He's not the typical new artist in Christian music. After all, how often does a member of one of the world's most famous "boy bands" decide to make a CCM debut? Rarely, if ever. Nevertheless, that's what Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell decided to do. Released on Reunion Records, Welcome Home is Littrell's first solo album which displays his musical influences - those from both the Christian pop scene and his boy band days.
Coming from such a successful mainstream pop background, it may be a slight surprise that Welcome Home features distinctly Christian lyrics. Opening track "My Answer Is You" is the perfect example of the hope Brian Littrell has in Christ and the change it has made in his life compared to the lives of those he has worked with in the past, "There's a world of difference when faith is in a heart/ It stands out like sunlight... When those around me ask me why I dare to dream/ Or why I love or why I sing/ My answer is You... Skeptics won't understand/ it's strange from the world's point of view/ My answer is You." It's clear that Littrell is secure in his faith and grateful for the grace of God as evidenced in "You Keep Givin' Me" and "We Lift You Up." In fact, Welcome Home is filled with songs of gratitude and praise towards God ("I'm Alive" and "Over My Head"). This performer even puts his own spin on the popular Joy Williams song "Wish," which expresses his desire to see "Jesus, face to face."
It's not Welcome Home's instrumentation that is reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys. Actually, this project sounds of something one could expect from early MercyMe or Steven Curtis Chapman, with arrangements that seem tailor-made for success at Christian pop/AC radio. Rather, it's Littrell's vocals and the boy band-esque harmonies that ring of his previous musical experience. Though this won't be considered a bad thing by some, it's these vocal stylings that just don't seem to fit on this album. While it is completely understandable that Littrell chose not to go back through the programmed pop route, it feels as if some places could have been a bit reworked to avoid that awkward feeling sometimes projected.
Brian Littrell is a veteran artist at this point, but he may still be a new face to those who stick closely to the Christian music scene. Welcome Home will be warmly accepted by some, while others may simply choose to pass on this disc. With a debut solo project that is, for the most part, solid with only a few trouble spots, we can expect Littrell to find his place in Christian music very soon.- Review date: 4/29/06, written by Lauren Summerford
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