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Sounds like … quiet and sophisticated adult contemporary pop with inflections of jazz, the sort of stuff you'd expect from Out of the Grey, Cindy Morgan, Eva Cassidy, and Sara Groves.At a glance … Denté's solo debut is a thoughtfully crafted and honestly worded pop album that's geared to women but equally enjoyable for men.
For 12 years, Christine Denté has been the unmistakable voice of husband-wife pop duo Out of the Grey, and become one of the most highly regarded and sought after vocalists in Christian music. Since graduating from Boston's Berklee College of Music, where she and Scott Denté first met, Out of the Grey has released six albums and a hits collection, amassing numerous No. 1 singles. Christine also joined Christian pop veterans Margaret Becker and Susan Ashton for one of the most fondly regarded collaborations from the mid-'90s, Ashton Becker Denté. Out of the Grey joined the Rocketown family with the 2001 release 6.1, and now Christine Denté steps alone into the spotlight for her solo debut, Becoming.
With Scott Denté in the producer's chair and contributing guitar as always, what sets this solo outing apart from past Out of the Grey projects? For starters, it's a different kind of working relationship for them. Though Scott still plays guitar on Becoming, there's more piano in the mix than Out of the Grey ever used, plus room for other guitarists to step in. The sound is similar—sophisticated and mature acoustic pop colored by guitar, piano, vintage keyboards, live percussion, and occasional strings. According to Scott, it also places the focus more on the nuances of Christine's vocal performance.
But most importantly, the album's 10 songs are more personal to Christine than most of the duo's previous work. The songs of Becoming, written over the years but never quite fitting Out of the Grey's repertoire, are basically Christine's life story. They cover her journey of faith with emotions and ideas laid bare, exploring her roles as a woman, wife, mother, and Christian. I was a little hesitant about an album marketed as one of "issues that relate directly to the hearts of women," wondering if it would be geared to specifically to so-called soccer moms. Turns out that Becoming is quite universal, with even the most "feminine" tracks—an ode to motherhood, "Summer"—simply capturing the joys of being a parent and being a child. Like the other nine tracks, it's something we can all relate to one way or another.
Denté begins by exploring her childhood in the beautifully complicated title track. It's about coming to acceptance through love, both from a spouse and a Savior: "I am becoming what I once was/The girl in the mirror of your love/I am becoming/Your love becomes me." With "Bigger Story," she outlines a lifetime of spiritual growth and her struggles to understand faith in the midst of uncertainties. It's appropriately followed by "Gotta Go Through," which asks God, "Why do I have to give so much? Haven't I been through enough? Wouldn't it be better just to let it go through?" It offers no easy answers, other than the perseverance of the title. Meanwhile, "Take It From Here" is a prayer for God to further his will despite our shortcomings.
Inspired by Galatians 5:6 and John Piper's Desiring God, "The Only Thing That Counts" offers simple testimony about the importance of faith lived out in love. "Sure of All I Hope For" explores the basics of faith and the hope in things unseen. In "How Far, How Much," Christine contrasts our shortcomings with Christ's perfection by questioning if she could show as much love as Jesus did unto death and resurrection. The final two tracks look to the future. "Echoes of Heaven" reminds us that life on earth is temporary, though the sweetest moments are magnified in heaven. "Goodbye" closes the album with a meditation on death and the hope of eternal life, expressed in a way that's sweet, peaceful, and far from depressing: "And we are left to question what do we do with this?/A day we all expect, yet unexpected always is/How beautiful the hope of those who know where they will go."
Becoming is a mellow album. All the tracks are good, but they're more distinguishable by melody and lyric, not by instrumentation or dynamic. That's the point, though, placing the emphasis on Denté's marvelous voice and her lyrics. Rocketown has made a nice home for the Dentés, first with Out of the Grey's 6.1 and now this. Many Christian female artists have attempted to share their personal journey of faith and let listeners into their point-of-view, ultimately offering trite clichés or the lyrics of other artists without being revelatory or unique. Becoming, in contrast, finds Christine Denté painting a wonderful picture of her story. She takes ownership of her perspective and speaks volumes about faith because of it.