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Coming From Somewhere Else

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2000 1 Jan
Coming From Somewhere Else

For most of you, the above names probably don't ring a bell, so permit me to refresh your memory. Gordon Kennedy was a guitarist and vocalist with Whiteheart for six years, half of the duo Dogs of Peace (the other half, bassist Jimmie Lee Sloas also plays on this album), and is a highly regarded session player in Nashville.

Wayne Kirkpatrick released his first solo album earlier this year (a terrific project), but you best know his songwriting from artists like Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and Susan Ashton — the list of "Kirkpatrick Kompositions" you would recognize is endless. Both Kirkpatrick and Kennedy wrote a "minor hit" with Tommy Simms that some might remember — Eric Clapton's "Change the World."

Like Kennedy, Phil Madeira is also a popular session musician primarily known for his B-3 organ skills, though he also plays guitar. He's written for Susan Ashton and Phil Keaggy (whom he's worked with since the late '70s).

And Billy Sprague needs little introduction as a veteran solo artist from the '80s, who has written for the likes of Sandi Patty and Gary Chapman. He's also an accomplished author.

Now that you've sampled the amazing credentials of these accomplished songwriters, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this interesting collaboration entitled Coming From Somewhere Else. The title track, which is the only original tune in the project, features gorgeous harmonies and guitar work on the part of all four artists. Listeners will immediately recall bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, The Traveling Wilburys, or even Christian music's own multi-artist group Lost Dogs. The other nine tracks are covers of songs these veterans wrote for other artists. All the writers play throughout the album, but each songwriter handles the vocals on his own song.

Gordon Kennedy does a terrific version of "That Kind of Love," which he originally wrote for PFR; the feel this time is less acoustic and gentle, featuring more electric guitar. He also covers his hit for Susan Ashton, "You Move Me." Wayne Kirkpatrick gives a beautiful stripped down, acoustic version of Michael W. Smith's "Place In This World," as well as a cover of the Susan Ashton song "Grand Canyon." Billy Sprague's classic "Via Dolorosa," originally recorded by Sandi Patty, is given new life as a dramatic acoustic piece; he also brings an acoustic feel to "Man After Your Own Heart," his song for Gary Chapman. Phil Madeira makes admirable contributions with covers of "Everywhere I Look" and "Hunger and Thirst," made popular by Phil Keaggy and Susan Ashton respectively. The album closes with the Grammy-winning "Change The World," more or less unchanged from the version made popular by Clapton.

Suffice it to say, this album is good stuff. The re-arrangements are skillfully performed, but they also draw attention to the excellent songwriting abilities of these four writers. If there were to be any complaint made, it's that there's only one original song on the album. I would liked to have seen more songcrafting, as Keaggy King and Dente did for their Sparrow Records collaboration a few years ago. I have no idea what the Rocketown Writers Series will be over time, or what the folks at Rocketown have in mind for the future of this series, but it promises to be an exciting and interesting venture for Rocketown Records if Coming From Somewhere Else is any indicator. Based on the success of the talent blend here, these four should definitely keep writing and performing together!