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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Under the Gaze

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Nov
  • COMMENTS
Under the Gaze
Sounds like … a mix of contemporary acoustic pop and traditional folk/country that rightfully earns comparisons to Alison Krauss, Amy Grant, and Shawn ColvinAt a glance … Under the Gaze is occasionally too plain and sweet for its own good, but it's still a pleasant folk/pop effort with some good examples of Arends' insightful and whimsical songwritingTrack ListingThis Is the MomentGreat Cloud of WitnessesNot a Tame LionAny Given SundayGetting Ready for GloryUnder the GazeYour LaughHalf a Million ReasonsFragileWho You AreOnly Time Will TellMay You Live

Though it's been five years since Carolyn Arends recorded her last release through Reunion Records, artistic independence hasn't slowed her; Under the Gaze is the Canadian singer/songwriter's third album since. Impressively self-produced, it's a pleasant combination of contemporary acoustic pop and traditional folk/country. Guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and more—fans of Alison Krauss, Amy Grant, and Shawn Colvin will find a lot to love.

As indicated in the title track, the whole album is a reminder that there is nothing in our lives that God isn't involved with—"Never once does he divide secular and sacred." The songs run the gamut of love, life, death, and faith, and thanks to Arends' proven songwriting, there's an appreciable measure of whimsy and insight. "Any Given Sunday" beautifully contrasts the diversity of worship styles, mindsets, and changed souls in churches every week. "Half a Million Reasons" offers general encouragement for why we should persevere every day. And the heart-wrenching but hopeful "Only Time Will Tell" poignantly tells of the death of a friend's infant son.

However, the album isn't consistent in delivering fresh and insightful perspectives. "This Is the Moment" is one of catchier songs, but thematically, it's a carbon copy of Arends' signature "Seize the Day." Charming as it is to list passed friends and family mingling in heaven with the biblical heroes, "Great Cloud of Witnesses" ultimately sounds too routine. And "Not a Tame Lion" isn't as unique or interesting as past songs written about Aslan/Jesus. Arends' songwriting can sometimes come across as too plain and sweet, but Gaze is nonetheless good enough for fans of simple acoustic pop and Arends' past work to check into. Visit www.carolynarends.com to learn more or to buy the record.


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