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Free to Live

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Jul
Free to Live
Sounds like … a poor man's version of Salvador, but as influenced by the likes of By the Tree, Steve Green, and Phillips, Craig & DeanAt a glance … Josh Lopez's heartfelt worship leading intermingles with run-of-the-mill worship sentiments and musicianship for a mostly average worship recordingTrack Listing Free to Live The Rest of My Life Great New Day Mi Salvador, Mi Dios Heart and Soul I Need You Jesus Jerusalem Take Me to This Place Just to Know You God, You Are God Con Mi Vida

When I'm not writing, I moonlight as a Spanish translator and interpreter. I actually have a college degree in it, and though I don't actively pursue the profession, the skills have served me well—especially at my church, a bilingual congregation where even the songs are done in two languages. Back when the song was hot, I was commissioned to translate and adapt Aaron Shust's "My Savior, My God" for our praise team. Not to toot my own horn, but the church loved it, and I imagine that if Shust were a Latino, he'd be singing right along.

I bring it up because, in all honesty, I was a bit shocked when I first heard Josh Lopez's own translation of the song. I had high hopes when I heard the first line ("Yo no pretendo comprender las intenciones de mi Dios … "), but sadly it goes downhill from there, right down to Lopez's perplexing pronunciation of the word Salvador ("Savior") as the phonetically aberrant "Sarvador."

I digress, since Free to Live, Lopez's first album for KOCH, is mostly in English. The disc is worshipful in spirit, as all the songs address God vertically in a style that runs the gamut from pop/rock ("New Day") to inspirational ("Just to Know You") to salsa-pop ("Con Mi Vida") to funk ("Heart and Soul") to electronic pop ("Take Me to This Place"). Stylistically, it's all over the place, though never disjointed—the indie feel of it all somehow binds the music together.

But that's also the album's Achilles' heel. On more than one occasion, Free to Live displays such an underwhelming, colorless mix, it sounds as if it was recorded in someone's basement. Songs like "The Rest of My Life" and the title track try their hand at punchy pop/rock, but end up coming across like watered-down rockers in the vein of By the Tree and newer Sonicflood. Still, Lopez's voice does elevate the album's potency—if you close your eyes, you'd think Salvador's Nic Gonzalez went solo.

Over time, Lopez has made a name for himself leading worship and sharing the stage with the likes of Israel & New Breed and Martha Munizzi, so it stands to reason that Free to Live is essentially a worship recording. Lopez rarely displays as much spice and sizzle as those veterans of church music, but he's otherwise earnest in his delivery, which is half the battle when making an effective praise album.

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