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Beautiful One: The Best of By the Tree

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Sep
Beautiful One: The Best of By the Tree
Sounds like … an uneven collection of By the Tree's worshipful brand of pop/rock, resembling the likes of Sonicflood, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, and Matchbox Twenty.At a glance … with so many changes in the band's line-up, so few genuine hits, and so many cover songs, this brief collection for By the Tree seems poorly conceived and unnecessary.Track Listing Beautiful One
Invade My Soul
Hold You High
Wonderful Again
I Need You
World On Fire
Rain Down
Salvation Song
Root of It All

By the Tree garnered a slew of accolades (including a pair of Dove Awards) for their energetic, pop/rock-infused worship with the release of their national debut Invade My Soul in 2001. Creatively speaking, the group didn't exactly reinvent the wheel, but their music still had a certain accessibility to it that endeared them, especially in the live setting. And while most bands fear the sophomore slump following a successful debut, By the Tree really upped the ante with a more experimental approach on These Days the following year, allowing them to (temporarily) break out of the worship mold with amped-up guitars and more imaginative songwriting.

But like all too many bands, By the Tree was plagued with roster changes, and for whatever reason, their sound and songwriting grew progressively more predictable with subsequent releases. It's now six years after their debut, and neither of the founding frontmen—Chuck Dennie and Kevin Rhoads—are part of the band anymore. Which makes Beautiful One: The Best of By the Tree an odd collection, representing a band that never established a consistent lineup or c settled into a comfortable blend of pop/rock and worship.

It sure doesn't help that this is another skimpy 10-track collection with no rarities or new songs to make it worthwhile for By the Tree's faithful fans. Yet the lack of tracks poses less a problem than the poorly chosen selections, favoring the band's most recent material (including the forgettable "World on Fire") and lackluster covers (Delirious' "Rain Down," Tim Hughes' "Beautiful One"). They didn't even name this collection after one of the band's own songs! Why not Reveal: The Best of By the Tree? Listeners interested in the band's best moments are better served picking up By the Tree's individual albums, many of which are now sold for as little as $5.

© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.