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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Big World

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Oct
Big World
Sounds like … inspirational pop with country and folk influences, reminiscent of early Steven Curtis Chapman, Dan Fogelberg, Billy Sprague, Steve Bell, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Bob BennettAt a glance … Carroll's first solo album in more than seven years doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it's got enough personality, thought, and production quality to set it apart from other more generic and clichd inspirational projectsTrack Listing Big World Everything I Need Ship Out of Water I Don't Care What They Say The Story Jealousy Letters I Left Behind When We Fail Love Halfway House Shelter Me

The latest to revive his career from supposed retirement, Bruce Carroll was one of Christian music's most acclaimed artists back in the late '80s and early '90s. As an inspirational pop/country artist, he released seven albums through Word and earned a lengthy string of Doves and Grammys. Then the singer/songwriter moved to Benson Records, and seemed to fade away after 1998's Boomerang, released shortly before the label folded.

Turns out that Carroll has kept busy serving as a worship leader at Hope Presbyterian in Memphis, one of the fastest growing churches in America. The position has also allowed him to contribute to a series of recordings through his congregation's in-house record label, inevitably leading to the release of Big World, an album Carroll's been working on since 2002.

Rallying believers to courageously live their faith outside their comfort zones, the title track's upbeat AC pop resembles Steven Curtis Chapman and, oddly enough, Mr. Mister ("Kyrie"). Carroll indulges his country-pop influences for "I Don't Care What They Say" and "Jealousy," while shifting to softer folk in "Ship Out of Water" and "Everything I Need." Though "Letters I Left Behind" is somewhat schmaltzy and "When We Fail Love" sounds like a generic inspirational ballad written 15 years ago, the songwriter proves capable of deeper lyricism with "The Story" (punctuated by gorgeous strings) and "Halfway House" (an interesting metaphor for the church).

I won't pretend that Carroll reinvents the wheel with music that recalls Billy Sprague (who co-wrote several tracks), early Chapman, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Bob Bennett, and Steve Bell. This is not a new sound, nor is it the most profound songwriting out there. But for what it is, and for those nostalgic for classic CCM from the late '80s and early '90s, Big World satisfies as a good inspirational folk/pop effort, demonstrating more personality, thought, and production quality than other similar sounding artists who either write from clich or don't write at all.

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