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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Apr
Sounds like … beautiful and predictable adult contemporary pop that utilizes the quartet's gorgeous harmoniesAt a Glance … as far as greatest hits collections go, 24 hits the spot, chronicling (to a point) Point of Grace's astounding consecutive run of number one hits

2003 marks the tenth anniversary of platinum-selling female vocal quartet Point of Grace (Heather Payne, Denise Jones, Terry Jones, and Shelly Breen), which has released as many as eight albums depending on what you choose to include. With a pop adult contemporary sound that is equally beloved and berated within the Christian music industry, the women initially drew comparisons to mainstream pop sensation Wilson Phillips in the early 90s — they have since outlasted and outperformed that trio, as well as many other similar sounding Christian acts over the years. And thanks to numerous esteemed songwriters (including Michael English, Grant Cunningham, Geoff Thurman, Regie Hamm, Michael Omartian, Darlene Zschech, Brent Bourgeois, and Michael W. Smith), Point of Grace has achieved an astounding 24 consecutive number one Christian adult contemporary radio singles, inspiring the title of this double-disc retrospective.

But let's really talk numbers for a second here. Point of Grace currently has 26 number one singles (at the moment, anyway — I haven't bothered to check the trade papers today). Two recent hits ("You Will Never Walk Alone" and the Dove nominated "Yes, I Believe") were both left off this album, probably to avoid detracting sales from the most recent album, Free to Fly. What's more, 24 actually has 25 songs on it with the inclusion of a new song, "Day by Day," which was co-written by Plumb. It's not yet a number one hit, but if 10 years of Point of Grace radio saturation has taught us anything, it will be soon enough.

Quibbling over the omission of two key songs in this case is kind of like whining about your drink having three ice cubes instead of four. Realistically, 24 is one of the most comprehensive greatest hits albums ever released in Christian music, and Warner's decision to release a generous double-disc anthology instead of a whittled down single disc reflects on Point of Grace's popularity and the label's confidence in them. Twenty-four consecutive number ones means that nothing else is missing — no lesser hits. If you've heard it on the radio, it's here (save two songs).

24 is smartly assembled in that it runs through the Point of Grace catalog chronologically. After "Day By Day," the album begins with the six hits from the group's self-titled 1993 debut (which at the time was truly a feat in itself): "I'll Be Believing," "One More Broken Heart," "Jesus Will Still Be There," "Faith, Hope & Love," "I Have No Doubt," and "No More Pain." Point of Grace would come close to matching that success with 1995's The Whole Truth, which yielded "The Great Divide," "Dying to Reach You," "Gather at the River," "God Is With Us," and "Love Like No Other." All of that completes 24's first disc, but Point of Grace was just getting started.

The vocal quartet quickly turned around a follow-up album in 1996 with Life, Love, & Other Mysteries, which featured four more number ones: "Keep the Candle Burning," "You Are the Answer," "Circle of Friends," and "That's the Way It's Meant to Be." Their 1998 smash, Steady On, recreated the successful stream of hits from their first album. It yielded the title track, "Saving Grace," "When the Wind Blows," "The Wonder of It All," "My God," and "The Song Is Alive." Finally, fans waited three long years for 2001's Free to Fly, and three of the five hits are included here — "Blue Skies," "He Sends His Love," and "Praise Forevermore."

There's no need to delve into the details of these songs. It's all textbook adult contemporary pop, albeit well-produced and beautifully sung pop. Lyrically, the songs speak for themselves with straightforward words of inspiration. Most people know whether or not they like Point of Grace, and those who don't need only turn their radio dials to a Christian pop station. Like Avalon, this group's array of number ones says more about the limited scope of Christian adult contemporary radio than it does of their overall pop success.

Regardless of what you may think of their pop sound and how it's affected the Christian music industry as a whole, there's no denying Point of Grace's incredible success. A string of twenty-four consecutive number one hits is still unheard of, even for a niche radio market. As far as what this album is intended for, and greatest hits albums in general, 24 hits the mark — complete with a detailed booklet that features photos and quotes from the four women concerning each song. Fans will no doubt recommend Point of Grace's beautiful Christmas album (A Christmas Story), their Rarities & Remixes project, and their Girls of Grace worship album, on which they only sing a few tracks. Otherwise, unless you absolutely feel the need to own every song that the foursome has ever recorded, this collection is just about all you could want from Point of Grace.