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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Aug
Sounds like … classic Christian pop/rock along the lines of John Elefante, Petra, Foreigner, Casting Crowns, and Steven Curtis Chapman. At a glance … the rock sound is pretty tame and dated, though Smith sings it well and the album should still appeal to fans of Petra and Steven Curtis ChapmanTrack ListingRunLukewarmAliveI Turn to YouSo Much GreaterSad SongOutsideDear LeopoldOur Love Will SurviveSweet Jesus

After five years and four albums worth of strong music sales and acclaim, all three members of Selah are taking a crack at solo projects. Todd Smith grew up with a passion for rock & roll, and not just Christian acts like Petra, but also the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Kansas, and Foreigner. So with the help of producers Jimmy Collins (Plumb, Matthew West) and Matt Bronleewe (Jars of Clay, Rebecca St. James), Smith's doing what he loves best on Alive, the latest musical offering to take inspiration from John Eldredge's Wild at Heart and challenge Christian men to live life fully.

Though Alive is indeed more rocking than the gentle inspirational pop of Selah, it's still pretty tame and dated. Similar to classic Foreigner and Kansas, it's more like solo efforts by Lou Gramm and John Elefante—or newer Petra instead of classic Petra if you prefer. In fact, the whole album would fit very comfortably within Steven Curtis Chapman's pop/rock catalog. "Run" strongly resembles Mark Schultz or 4Him, while "I Turn to You" sounds much like the heavier stuff heard on Casting Crowns' debut.

While it might have been more interesting to hear Smith embrace a more timely and relevant approach to rock, should we really expect that from the Selah vocalist? Enjoyed for what it is, Alive is a likeable (though formulaic) pop/rock album with some occasionally ripping guitar solos and hooks, especially on "Outside" and the title track. Smith's powerful vocals are a nice fit with the corporate rock of Petra and Foreigner, though he shines even more on the ballads "Our Love Will Survive" and "Sweet Jesus," a duet with Matthew West. That seems to confirm that Smith is better suited for pop in general, regardless of how much guitar is in the mix.