Song of Solomon
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
An NBA basketball hopeful (at a towering 6'6") until an injury forced him out of the game, Ben Tankard found a second career as a music minister. Considered by many as one of Gospel's best instrumentalists, Ben has been called the Quincy Jones of Gospel because of his work in the Instrumental Gospel-Jazz genre. He has been acclaimed as a producer as well, most notably for work with Yolanda Adams. Ben's newest album, Song of Solomon, is inspired by the book of the Bible with the same name, which of course means the album explores Christian romance.
It's always tricky for a Christian artist to explore romance without being perceived as a mainstream sell-out. The fact that this is an instrumental album works in Ben's favor, but there are two songs with lyrics (sung by guest vocalists). The first, the jazzy "Smile 4 Me (My Love)," could be used in a wedding as special music. The equally jazzy "Special One" is a love song for our Savior, which goes to prove that this album is not exclusively for romantic couples. The majority of the album is instrumental, but the songs are clearly biblically based because of their titles: "Song of Solomon," "Thou Art Fair," and "Shi-Ly-Ku" (which is Benjamite for "Women of virtue, queenly anointed").
As for the music, it's very pleasant and light. I can't help but compare it to Jim Brickman, except that Ben adds more of a rhythm-and-blues flavor to the piano-based songs. Most of the other tracks recall the music you hear on lite jazz radio stations. The album's beautifully produced, and just about all the instruments are played by Ben. Instrumental music seems to be used in different ways by different people. Personally, I don't think I could study Scripture to this music (though it's very mellow and relaxing). It seems better suited as pre-service music at a worship service or dinner music for you and your significant other. Such an application may make some skeptical that this is "Christian music," but it clearly comes from one rooted in Christian faith. And it would be foolish to suggest there's no place for romance in Christian music. Ben Tankard is certainly one of Gospel music's treasured talents, and I recommend Song of Solomon to anyone looking for some light instrumental music for whatever mood you're in … romantic or spiritual.