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Timing Could Be Off for Cheri Keaggy’s Latest

  • Kevan Breitinger CMCentral.com
  • 2007 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
Timing Could Be Off for Cheri Keaggy’s Latest

Artist:  Cheri Keaggy
Title:  Because He First Loved Us
Label:  Psalm 91 Records

Six years is a long time between albums, and Cheri Keaggy’s Because He First Loved Us does show a bit of that time lag in its Adult Contemporary style.

Six years ago there may have been more of an audience for an AC album, but those numbers are diminishing all the time, even as the general number of album buyers drops across the board. Of the album’s 13 tracks, only a few break loose from that AC flavor, but those are the best of the bunch.

That being said, there is no denying Keaggy’s vocal talents. The girl can sing, and she’ll mix it up when called upon. Her silky vocals play nicely off the quiet organ undertones of the dreamy Susan Ashton-reminiscent opener, “Stay to the Middle.” But she brings a straight-up sultry feel to the mid-tempo title track, injecting some much needed texture to the string-heavy pop track. When it’s time to go country, she’s right there on the slow burning standout, “Bring It All In.”

Keaggy wrote all but one track on Because He First Loved Us, and this is one of a few that breaks out of the AC mold, producer Tom Hemby’s steel guitar another welcome touch. When Uncle-in-law Phil Keaggy adds his strong guitar solo to pop track “This Is the Love,” it also adds some textural interest.

But for the most part Because He First Loved Us is unremittingly sunny, and the steady barrage of positivity feels out of date in a time when most artists are choosing to go past a one-dimensional expression of the faith life. Ten years ago this album would not stand out as sharply for its relentless optimism; even now I feel badly commenting on a quality that is not so much wrong as it is incomplete. Still, I do believe there is an audience that will enjoy the very Scriptural look ahead (“Tell Me Again About Heaven”), the string-laden pop paean to the Lord’s faithfulness (“Restored”), and the openly heart-tugging ode to son Cameron (“You’ll Always Be My Son”).

Keaggy ties things up well with a nicely nuanced Carol King cover, “You’ve Got a Friend,” performed with Marty Roe. Their warm vocals make a good blend against a mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, and this track manages to pull off sincere warmth.

Cheri Keaggy obviously has talent, sincerity and heart, and plenty of all three. Because He First Loved Us should sell well and be enjoyed in many churches and fellowships and among slightly older audiences, but might not find as warm a reception outside of the dwindling AC market unfortunately.

 © 2007 CMCentral.com.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission. 

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