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The Invitation

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Apr
The Invitation
Sounds like … the modern pop of Vanessa Carlton, Anna Nalik, Britt Nicole, and Jaci Velasquez, with a worshipful focus that steers her toward Chris Tomlin and Laura Story territoryAt a glance … Meredith Andrews has a lot going for her as a songwriter, a worship leader, and a terrific vocalist, but there's not quite enough freshness or originality to the worshipful pop on this InvitationTrack Listing You Invite Me In Lift Up Your Head You're Not Alone Treasure Show Me What It Means Deeper The River The New Song We Sing Who Is Like You Draw Me Nearer You're Not Alone (acoustic)

Meredith Andrews leads a long line of young female artists entering the national Christian music scene in 2008, though she has the benefit of a hefty resume. The Liberty University graduate has long served as a worship leader—as a teen, during her college years, and presently at Chicago's Harvest Bible Chapel. She's already released an independent project and previously toured with Truth; now she's set to open for Aaron Shust on his first headlining tour. Billboard Magazine has even named her Christian music's most promising new artist as a face to watch in 2008 (though it's worth mentioning that John Waller's career has yet to explode as predicted in last year's list).

Newly signed to Word Records, Andrews' national debut is intended as an invitation to experience God through worship and a relationship with him; hence The Invitation. To her credit, the theme does carry through most of the album, from the opening "You Invite Me" reminiscent of Vanessa Carlton or Anna Nalik to the gentle piano flow of "The River" beckoning all who are broken and weary to come to Living Water. The radio single "You're Not Alone" is also very relational, and though it's a tad predictable as far as comforting love songs written from God's perspective go ("You're not alone, for I am here/Let me wipe away your every fear"), there's a certain pop quality to it that fans of American Idol would find appealing.

For sure, Andrews remains rooted in worshipful pop, as if Jaci Velasquez or Britt Nicole went the way of Chris Tomlin (especially "Lift Up Your Head"). Ranging between upbeat rockers ("The New Song We Sing") and balladry ("Treasure"), the songs are generally congregational friendly, but often fall prey to formula. The vaguely Coldplay-ish "Who Is Like You," for example, merely strings together a series of phrases from modern worship and scripture: "Who is like You Lord/Who was and is and is to come/Forever worshiped and adored/We pour our hearts out here before Your throne/This is for You alone."

Andrews brings a lot to the scene as a worship leader, a songwriter, and a terrific vocalist (check out "Draw Me Nearer" and the acoustic version of "You're Not Alone," where her pipes ring out loud and clear with nothing but piano to compete with.) But there's a feeling with this album that she's merely singing what's worked on so many other worship projects before her—it simply doesn't bring enough freshness to the genre musically or lyrically. As such, The Invitation is not a great album, but it's still a good one that introduces Meredith Andrews' considerable talents and potential.

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