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Beyond This Song

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Beyond This Song
Sounds like … inspirational pop that reminds me of Lisa Bevill or early Margaret Becker.At a Glance … this is more of your usual inspirational pop, except for some nice ambient production, occasionally engaging music, and Vicki's strong vocal skills.

Vicki Yohe is a regular performer on the TBN network who's been dubbed one of our generation's most influential worship leaders by Charisma Magazine. Now she's making her debut on Aluminum Records with her fifth release, Beyond This Song. To some degree, the album is another pop diva project featuring music that could easily be performed by the likes of Natalie Grant, Lisa Bevill, and Point of Grace to name a few. Of course, not all such projects are created equally, and I found Beyond This Song to be both predictable and likable.

I think this album's greatest asset in distinguishing itself is the sound of the production. It's surprisingly ambient and doesn't follow the same predictable sound of most other Christian pop albums these days. I don't know how to explain it simply, other than to say that many of today's Christian pop albums sound like they're produced by the same person (or else the attempt was made to make them sound the same), whereas Vicki's album has a different flavor. It's got more of a classic '80s/'90s pop sound to it, reminiscent of early recordings by Celine Dion and Margaret Becker—lots of reverb, big drum programming, and some slick guitar effects.

Normally, I'd criticize an album for sounding too dated because of poor production. In this case, the effect was either intentional or else it's just different and nostalgic enough to make it interesting. In fact, the only moment that made me cringe was in "Hopes Are High," when Vicki succumbs to the now-overused Cher warble effect. Just because everyone else is using it doesn't mean it's cool. Vicki's somewhat lower voice quality adds to the classic pop feel, often sounding like Celine Dion without the really high notes. Another comparison that comes to mind is Bonnie Tyler, the '80s singer with the big hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and the bombastic pop sound similar to MeatLoaf. All that to say, Vicki has an interesting and powerful pop/rock voice that kept me engaged.

Too bad the songs are less engaging—but they're not completely forgettable either. Overall the melodies are quite beautiful. Much of the lyrics tread familiar inspirational worship territory, such as "I will love You forever / There is no one beside You, I will never deny You" from "I Will Love You Forever." The other songs aren't so much cliché as they are familiar and simple. Songs such as "Beyond This Song I Sing" and "Concert For You" are nice because they're more personalized and take something familiar but phrase it differently. The latter song, for example, is about making God the reason for singing praise. Really, the album's greatest weakness is that 8 of the 10 songs could be considered ballads. There's not enough variety in the production and tempo to keep the album from sounding the same. At least she varies the style for two songs—the upbeat pop/rock of "Real" and the pop shuffle of "Never Too Late For." If there were more of an attempt to vary the style of the album, I might have been a bit more enthusiastic about Beyond This Song.

Still, when it comes to inspirational pop, I think Beyond This Song is just a little more interesting than your usual high-profile pop diva artist. I don't know how people will react to the slightly different and somewhat dated pop feel, but it's certainly not a bad quality recording. This album may not chart any new musical territory, but thanks to inspiring lyrics, interesting (though not imaginative) production, and a solid pop/rock voice, Beyond This Song gets a recommendation from me for people looking for a good inspirational pop album.

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