- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Ben Glover is the latest entry into the singer-songwriter club, and if 26 Letters is an indicator, there is much potential here. His music comes across as a more musically interesting, sometimes edgier version of 4Him or Wayne Watson, though at times he also recalls the music of Wes King, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Schultz, Michael W. Smith, and Wayne Kirkpatrick (who helped Ben co-write the title track, easily the album's best-written song). Ben's music is pleasant guitar-driven pop, but it's also got that routine Christian pop air about it (largely because of Brent Milligan's capable but predictable production). Also, the music stays safely in the adult contemporary pop realm, only occasionally approaching rock territory. Consequently, a lot of the album's music is fairly interchangeable stylistically, with only the melody and the lyrics to set the songs apart. Ben grew up listening to Christian music, and it shows—he follows the Christian pop formula perfectly. Let that be praise or criticism depending on your expectations of Christian music.
Thankfully, Ben's got the songwriter factor in his favor. Like Mark Schultz (whom he is touring with this spring), Ben's got a gift for expressing simple beliefs in a heartfelt way. The aforementioned title track is an enjoyable song about not having enough words to express our gratefulness to the Lord. "The Man I Want To Be" is a delightful ode to Ben's dad, and would make a great tribute at a Father's Day church service … if the song weren't so personalized to the author's circumstances. "Dancing With Cactus" is a unique metaphor for temptation and its road paved with good intentions. It's probably Ben's best self-written song because it spells out the temptation mentality so well. I also enjoyed "My Only Hope," which makes the interesting point that amidst all the falling down and getting up a Christian faces, getting up is the easier part because of the hope we have in Christ.
These are just some examples of the quality songwriting Ben is capable of; unfortunately, he's also capable of writing some songs with only a shell of an idea. "Too Many Miracles" is written for an atheist, stating there's too much proof to deny God's existence. Strangely enough, it fails to give any examples to the targeted atheist, so I'm not sure if it'll speak to the intended audience. "Welcome To America" is a call for the nation to return to morality, and though the lyrics are somewhat indicting, the song doesn't contain enough anger and passion to impact the listener beyond an affirmation that America is in need of some spiritual healing. They're fair songs, but they only go so far.
This isn't a bad album by any means. It's just that Ben needs to expand his musical palette and vision if he's going to distinguish himself. Though this is a rather unremarkable album in many ways, it is pretty good for a debut—a very listenable and often enjoyable album. Ben Glover's songwriting skills elevate it a little bit above the usual Christian pop, and it will be interesting to see how far his musical career develops over time.