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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 May
Sounds like … a hybrid of Latin pop and adult contemporary sounds, as if Steven Curtis Chapman were fronting a toned-down version of the group SalvadorAt a glance … Ricardo's debut is not as Latin-spiced as one would expect, but it's still a likeable introductory selection for those looking for effective original worshipTrack ListingCome DownCelebrateThe Name of JesusI Call Your NameTe AmoYou Influence MeUnmerited FavorThank You, Thank YouStand StrongWe Love You JesusLord I Worship YouRescue MeIt Is Well With My Soul

Like many other worship leaders-turned-recording artists, Pastor Ricardo Sánchez got his start in his home church, the 1,700-member First Assembly Dream Center in his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. Though he still serves there, now his focus has turned to developing his solo career as the newly christened Ricardo, but his heart for worship remains the same on his Waymaker debut Unmerited.

The style of praise-and-worship fostered at his home church blends contemporary gospel, hymns, Latino culture, and a bit of R&B for good measure. But Unmerited is a bit less eclectic, more informed by the guitar pop of Steven Curtis Chapman and Warren Barfield than by, say, someone like Salvador or Israel & New Breed. Though a lot of these songs are straightforward and simple declarations of faith in God and his sovereignty, they all possess the melodic immediacy necessary for effectively leading worship.

That doesn't mean Ricardo won't alter the formula and offer something altogether different from time to time. Albeit sporadically, he does pay homage to his Hispanic heritage in "Celebrate," perhaps the spiciest cut on the album. Elsewhere, he breaks out the Spanish in the jangly "Te Amo," a track more reminiscent of Blues Traveler than the expected Latin pop. Some songs seem unnecessary, like his earnest yet ultimately unremarkable take on the a cappella "It Is Well With My Soul." The rest is a well-balanced mixture of heartfelt ballads—the piano-based "Rescue Me" being the most prominent—and upbeat pop/rock with a vertical bent. It's nothing groundbreaking, but nonetheless likeable, singable, and joyful enough to warrant an above average recommendation.

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