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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Dec
Sounds like … Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Amy Grant, Carolyn Arends, Jennifer Knapp, and other songwriters that excel at writing heartfelt pop songs on the guitarAt a glance … Air marks a welcome return to form for Christian music veteran Margaret Becker, who offers some of her best material in almost a decadeTrack Listing Coming Up for Air All I Need Is Love Fly Just Isaac Surrender Said and Done Dear John Beautiful You're Still God To Be an Indian

Is the Christian pop guard of the '80s and '90s attempting to make a comeback? Steve Green, Sandy Patti, Kathy Troccoli, Kim Hill, Cheri Keaggy, and others have all experienced a spike in productivity in the past couple of years, even in the face of Christian music's apparent indifference to the legacies of veterans, however big or small they may be.

Now comes the latest from Margaret Becker, and the last time she held an electric guitar on one of her album covers was for 1998's Falling Forward, one of her most low-key but no less critically lauded efforts. That and 1999's What Kind of Love marked the end of an era for Becker, who then left Sparrow Records, shifted her focus to speaking at women's conferences, began authoring books, and took to producing and mentoring younger artists.

Back to that electric guitar on the cover. Ever since Falling Forward, Maggie B. has taken a softer, more soothing approach to music-making, favoring atmospheric, acoustic pop arrangements over her rootsy brand of folk-tinged pop/rock. Air, her first album of all-new material in almost a decade, aims to fix all of that.

It may not rock in the strictest sense of the term, but Air otherwise exposes Becker's rocker-chick inclinations with more clarity than other efforts she's recorded in recent memory. It's nice to hear Becker singing buoyant, soaring pop numbers once again ("Coming Up for Air," "All I Need Is Love"), even if these don't necessarily stack up with her most memorable material.

While it's refreshing to hear Becker's killer voice commanding the songs, her artistry is best perceived when she changes gears and goes for a more contemplative, alternative touch. The brilliant "Just Isaac" is a good primer, as a haunting, almost percussive electric guitar carries a lyric about the human tendency to help God fulfill his promises. That ability to pen a well thought-out verse (the eloquent "Surrender," the reflective "To Be an Indian") reminds us why Becker, even at the height of her career, was never just a pretty voice, but a singer/songwriter with substance.

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