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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Beautiful People

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 May
Beautiful People
Sounds like … songwriting in the spirit of Keith Green and Rich Mullins, plus the passionate and charismatic delivery of Shane & Shane, Shawn McDonald, and Rita Springer.At a glance … Beautiful People is an interesting concept album bogged down by loose song craft, brittle melodies, and excessive spontaneity.Track Listing Dear John
Beautiful People
All Things Are Possible
In Your Presence
You Decide What's Beautiful
I Will Never Leave You Children
Lullaby for a Petrified Sacred Society
Everything You Do
Into the Sky
Sons and Daughters
Mom and Dad
Never Alone Martin
Children of Our Time

There just doesn't seem to be middle ground when it comes to singer/songwriter Jason Upton—you either love him or you don't. Since his major-label debut Faith in 2001, he's been hailed as a "prophetic" voice in worship music, not so much in the "get-your-life-straight" sense, but more from the unbridled, earnest passion his performances and leading exude.

That fervor has earned him a big enough following to justify a whopping ten albums in only eight years in music ministry. Included in that is 2007's Beautiful People, his first album distributed through worship label Integrity Music. The joint venture is an unusual one, since Integrity is best known for producing live worship recordings, while Upton seems intent on bending and breaking all the rules of the typical corporate worship service.

Though poetic and contemplative in spirit, Beautiful People has more in common with Lamentations than the Psalms. Nearly every song is a plaintive cry—to God, to wayward children, to an unfaithful Bride. The prevailing thread throughout the disc is the Christian's response to the downtrodden and the need to become an agent of grace in a graceless world. It's the stuff late greats Rich Mullins and Keith Green might have come up with if still alive—Upton's forthright, piano-driven style is often likened to theirs.

But Mullins and Green knew how to write lean, accessible pop songs and they understood that their own indulgences shouldn't get in the way of the message—they delivered it simply, tightly, and concisely. Upton on the other hand gets caught in the moment, meandering, improvising, and sermonizing for long stretches as if he was unaware that the people of God are a stiff-necked people (and with short attention spans to boot). Which is unfortunate, because Beautiful People has a lot of important things to say, but it takes too long to get to the point and make those messages memorable.

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