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Sounds like … inspirational contemporary pop you'd expect from the legendary vocalist, very similar to the works of NewSong and Clay CrosseAt a Glance … although this album initially seems unnecessary from an artist who already has more than a couple of greatest-hits compilations, there's no denying Bob's impressive vocal abilities and the quality of some of these sentimental pop songs.
Unless you go out of your way to not listen to music, chances are really good that you heard a hit single in 1997 by the name of "Butterfly Kisses." Within a few months of its release, the daddy-daughter love song became a standard for wedding receptions and catapulted Bob Carlisle's album Shades of Grace (soon re-titled Butterfly Kisses) to the top of the charts. The hit single also became the unofficial poster child of sappy pop. Some of that notoriety was earned, due in part to the over-saturated radio play of the single, but there have been far more schmaltzy pop songs over the years ("The Christmas Shoes" and "Daddy Cut My Hair" immediately come to mind). And what father can't identify with the paternal love expressed in "Butterfly Kisses" after walking his own daughter down the aisle? Some of us are a little quick to dismiss the impact of "Butterfly Kisses," a song that seems awfully cheesy until your own wedding experience. Even more of us are quick to dismiss the writing talents and vocal skills of Bob Carlisle, an artist who's had his share of hits and misses. His new album, Butterfly Kisses & Other Stories, obviously focuses on the hits.
I suppose the first question on the minds of Bob Carlisle's fans is whether or not this album really is necessary, since there have been at least three other Bob Carlisle greatest-hits albums in the last five years. Those still hoping for a comprehensive anthology that chronicles Bob's career from the '70s and his days with the rock band Allies to the present will have to keep on hoping. Unlike other past hits compilations, this one actually features Bob's biggest hit, as evidenced by the title. The album is essentially a five-year retrospective, beginning with the incredible success of the Butterfly Kisses album and continuing with his two subsequent albums with Diadem, 1998's Stories from the Heart and 2000's Nothing but the Truth.
Bob's recent albums each have featured two or three pretty good songs padded with some fluff. So even though a five-year retrospective seems excessive, it's a nice summary of the man's most worthwhile songs over the course of three albums. Besides the title track, the Butterfly Kisses album also is represented here by the upbeat soulful pop sound of "Mighty Love" (inspired by I Corinthians 13:1), "Man of His Word" (a tribute to Bob's father), and "Living Water." The songs "Father's Love" and "We Fall Down" are taken from the Songs from the Heart album. Featured in the cinematic dud Jack Frost (starring Michael Keaton), the charming "Father's Love" is Bob's "Butterfly Kisses" for his son. The stirring and powerful "We Fall Down" was made even more famous by Donnie McClurkin, but Bob originally performed the Kyle Matthews-penned hit, and his version is a particularly strong arrangement that's highlighted by a children's choir in the final two minutes of the song.
Nothing but the Truth is showcased by "Forgiveness" and "The Truth (La Verdad)." The latter is an autobiographical story of Bob's coming to know Christ, and it's a slick and fun Latin blues-pop tune that recalls Tower of Power, Salvador, and Santana at their best. Additionally, the album includes "I Will Follow Christ," the 2000 Dove Award winner for Inspirational Song of the Year. It's actually a Clay Crosse song that originally appeared on his own greatest-hits album and was inspired by a Broadway musical (imagine the disciples deciding to answer Jesus' call). Featuring the powerful vocal combination of Clay, Bob, and BeBe Winans, it's easy to see why the power ballad won the Dove Award.
Fans also will be interested in Butterfly Kisses & Other Stories for the three new songs on the album. "My Testimony" is probably the least impressive of the three, a simple song of faith that features a somewhat extraneous cameo by Vestal Goodman. "You're Beautiful" illustrates God's unconditional love for us with the story of a father embracing his newborn handicapped child. It's a powerful message that God still loves us strongly despite our own spiritual handicap of sin-though the song comes across as a little schmaltzy. The best of the new tracks definitely is "Abba Father," a song about rediscovering the joy of the Lord amidst our daily routines. The catchy inspirational-pop song truly showcases Bob's outstanding blue-eyed-soul vocal range, more so than any other song on the album … and that's saying quite a bit.
Fans have much to consider when it comes to deciding whether or not to pick up a copy of Butterfly Kisses & Other Stories, though I'm sure it's no coincidence this album is being released just before Father's Day. If you bought Bob's last three albums, you already have 2/3 of this new album. Still, four more songs may be worth picking it up, especially if you like the first single, "You're Beautiful." Like previous Bob Carlisle compilations, this is a somewhat inaccurate representation of the artist's career — only a partial snapshot of his 28 years in the music business. But there's no denying the man's vocal abilities, the impressive pop production, and the stirring songwriting that occasionally makes its way into your heart.