- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Most people recognize Jami Smith from her self-titled national debut album and her work as a worship leader. Her sophomore release, simply titled Home, is a return to the live setting with which she's so comfortable. It's also a return to her alma mater, Oklahoma Baptist University, where this concert/worship service took place. Produced by worship artist David Crowder (who releases his national debut early 2002), Home sounds like something Jennifer Knapp would have released were she to do a live worship project. Jami's strong alto vocals are reminiscent of Jennifer or Margaret Becker, and the straightforward guitar rock sound should appeal to fans of the Knappster's music. Home isn't an obvious live album (there's rarely any crowd noise in the mix), but there's a definite live band edge to the sound that makes you feel as though you're listening to a worship service in a small theater or club.
Jami writes most of her own music, 9 of the 11 tracks in this case. My favorite two songs by Jami are the stirring and intimate title track, about finding peace and rest in the Lord, and "Find a World," an interesting take on mission work and evangelism written from the Lord's perspective and inspired by Jami's missionary brother. There's also a simplified but nevertheless upbeat cover of the popular worship song "Lord Reign in Me," as well as a cover of the gentle worship song "Be the Centre" from Vineyard's much-loved Hungry album. This new version of "Be the Centre" is extremely powerful and rocking by comparison and is clearly a highpoint of the album. It's also one of the few tracks with an audience response at the end of it.
Most of the other songs by Jami are a little on the simplistic side, and Jami acknowledges that's intentional for the sake of accessibility. I can appreciate that, considering her target audience is primarily teens and college students, but for the sake of artistry I think she could use a smidgen more depth to her lyrics. I also appreciate that the CD booklet includes guitar chords with the lyrics, encouraging people to use the songs in their own worship services. I wouldn't necessarily call Home a fabulous and groundbreaking worship album, because it's a familiar sound with simple worship songs. However, it's a well-performed worship album with original worship songs and a few standout moments. I think that will appeal to those looking for simple worship music to use in starting or maintaining a basic youth worship service. This is the sort of worship album I endorse because it's a resource, and it showcases the skills of one of worship music's brightest talents.