Long Way Home
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Oct
- Waiting for Tomorrow
- Fellow Traveler
- Long Way Home
- Welcome to Love
- Wonderful Wonder
- Let the Silence Speak
- I Bring Everything
- Live Once
Since breaking onto the national scene with 1999's
For starters, it's easily the best studio production since her debut. The exquisitely recorded
More importantly, Owens opens up more in her songwriting, and while she's always been honest in her craft, she's never been this personable or vulnerable. "I'm finding comfort in the fact that I'm always going to be slightly uncomfortable," says Owens. A great comment, but not the kind of insight you typically find in her songwriting. Now she says she's learned to be more herself, and it's helped her make the songs more her own.
While every one of her albums has had a standout ballad, "Wonderful Wonder" might be her greatest yet—and clearly one that's closer to her heart than most. Finally we get an incredibly moving song about faith from Owens' unique perspective as a blind person: "I don't know the ocean's crystal blue/And I don't climb the mountains for the view/Or wish upon the stars above my head/Or bear witness to a marvelous sunset/But the very thought of things I've never seen is all it takes to bring me to my knees." Nearly as poignant, yet more surprising musically, is "Pieces," a song she co-wrote with Wayne Kirkpatrick. With gutsy lyrics about a soul in need of repair, she resorts to an edgy rock sound that effectively compliments her bluesy side—she really should delve into this more often.
"Let the Silence Speak" finds Owens tackling our natural aversion to silence with Nichole Nordeman-styled introspection, reminding us that those are the times we can best connect with God. "I Bring Everything" lists the things in her life that she longs to surrender to the Lord; it's a soaring track similar to Coldplay, though it feels a tad short with its abrupt ending. In "Fellow Traveler," she likens the spiritual journey to one beggar showing another where the bread is, while "Waiting for Tomorrow" smartly observes that looking ahead too often can prevent us from living for the present.
Owens indulges her soulful side in the title ballad, matching the style with hopeful lyrics about our need to live and love together in peace. More impressive is the darker sounding "Tyranny," using soulful piano pop to convey false security and the fear of being outspoken and accepted. The atmospheric finale "Live Once" sounds like a contemporized Norah Jones, though its lengthy seven-minute run would have benefited more from some soulful vocal improv in addition to the mellow guitar solo.