Music Inspired by the Motion Picture
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Feb
- Amazing Grace—Chris Tomlin
- It Is Well—Jeremy & Adie Camp
- All Creatures of Our God and King—Shawn McDonald & Bethany Dillon
- Holy, Holy, Holy—Steven Curtis Chapman
- Fairest Lord Jesus—Natalie Grant
- I Need Thee Every Hour—Jars of Clay
- Just As I Am—Nichole Nordeman
- Were You There?—Smokie Norful
- Rock of Ages—David Crowder & Marty Stuart
- My Jesus I Love Thee/'Tis So Sweer—Bart Millard
- Nearer My God to Thee—Kierra "Kiki" Sheard
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness—Avalon
- How Great Thou Art—Martina McBride
Some accept "inspired by" soundtracks at face value as cinematic tie-ins. Others regard them as marketing ploys. Having seen Amazing Grace twice, I can whole-heartedly recommend it as an excellent film about the efforts of Christian abolitionist William Wilberforce to end slavery in Britain. I can also say that this album of Music Inspired by the Motion Picture Amazing Grace has precious little in common with the movie beyond the title track and the cover photo.
Featuring several of the biggest names in Christian pop, gospel, and country, the hymns in this collection were chosen because they're supposedly "close to the heart of Wilberforce." Which is perhaps another way of saying that these are hymns Wilberforce probably might have enjoyed as a music fan—even though several of them weren't written in his time, and most of them are set to pop/country arrangements.
Nevertheless, motivations have no bearing on the album's quality. Though some of the tracks were previously released on other projects, most are new recordings, including Chris Tomlin's reworking of "Amazing Grace" from See the Morning, with newly added soulful backing vocals that help evoke the film's themes. A beautifully ethereal rendition of "All Creatures of Our God and King" by Shawn McDonald and Bethany Dillon is both electronic and sparsely acoustic, and while Natalie Grant's cover of "Fairest Lord Jesus" may be too modern for traditionalists, the programmed Euro-pop production is undeniably cool.
Really, most all the tracks range from good to excellent. But you should be aware that a similarly styled WoW Hymns collection is on the horizon, which includes contemporary versions of nearly all the hymns on this project, including five of the very same tracks. I can't imagine anyone wanting to buy two albums so comparable, and WoW ultimately offers more bang-for-buck. This one's still worthwhile, provided you know what you're in for—a collection of contemporized hymns, not an album of music featured in the Amazing Grace movie or a meaningful response to it.