In 2003, Christian music's sweetheart Sarah Kelly left a lasting impression on listeners everywhere with her unique vocals and memorable original worship songs. Her long awaited sophomore record has already been delayed a year but is finally seeing the light of day, bringing out a whole new side of Kelly. Worship is not the focus this time around as she draws more from the painful experiences in her life to bring forth a collection of songs about bridging the past with the present to start the process of emotional and spiritual healing.
Where The Past Meets Today showcases Kelly's classic rock roots more than on her previous record, and is likely to draw even more comparisons of her vocal traits to that of Janis Joplin. The album's clean yet raw production creates more of an intimate setting for her songs. While her debut, Take Me Away, used vocal layering to build more grandiose choruses, this more stripped down approach feels considerably more personal. This works to the benefit of the album's songwriting indeed as the songs are more straightforward and honest about the brokenness and pain Kelly has faced in life. As a whole, Where The Past Meets Today is a sorrowful look into the experiences of the brokenhearted. But through this process of self-examination and confession, there's still so much hope. "Hold On Love" is in many ways an anthem of the album, an answer to all the turmoil within its verses. "At About Midnight" is also a delicate piano-driven admittance to God that no matter what happens in life, no matter what changes are faced, He will always be sought after for solace and praise. "Out Of Reach" is another highlight, an emotional look at leaving yesterday where it belongs. Before the song concludes, Sarah cries out with hope for the future, "I see life, I see true life ahead, not behind."
Kelly pumps up the rock a couple notches for her second outing as well, but doesn't quite capture the energy the songs convey live. "Still Breathing," "Between The Lines," and "Believe Again" display a wonderfully raw, more edgy sound than we've heard from Sarah yet. But contrasted with the softer side displayed in some tracks, they pale in comparison. Kelly truly shines her brightest in more intimate moments like "Fall Into You" (which feels a lot like a slightly faster and more passionate version of Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me"), a longing for a love on earth like that with her Heavenly Father, and the heartbreaking goodbye to a friend in "Remember Me Well." The piano-driven "In Your Eyes" and the 'don't know what you have til it's gone' message of "What You Leave Behind" also more powerfully striking as slower songs.
While Kelly is already planning her third record to be a return to the worship she's become known for, Where The Past Meets Today is a bold album of finding beauty and healing through the valleys of life. As often positive as it is sad, Sarah Kelly shares some of her most personal experiences with listeners on this album to bring hope to those who may feel there is none. The honesty that is born out of facing our past trials and heartaches is just one of the steps we must take on the road to healing, and Sarah wants to take your hand and remind you that you're not alone in the journey.- PReview date: 6/16/06; Review date: 8/12/06 written by John DiBiase
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