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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Gratitude (Cool Flame Shoes Music)

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Apr
Gratitude (Cool Flame Shoes Music)
Sounds like … acoustic pop reminiscent of Cat Stevens, Steven Delopoulos, Rich Mullins, and Bebo NormanAt a glance … Gratitude isn't exceptional or unique, but it's nonetheless likeable and allows eLi to take some new and improved creative pathsTrack ListingI Am Your FireStrongHallelujahHide & SeekSing It OutNorwayWe Don't TalkStuckGratitudeI Worship

It's been three years since eLi released Now the News, his final album with ForeFront Records. Now an independent artist with his own label, eLi released a live album in 2003 and now this all-new studio effort, Gratitude.

Produced by Mark Chesshir and eLi, this likeable album offers more of what fans came to expect over three previous albums. The guy's always had an impressive Cat Stevens vocal impersonation, and hearing him explore a higher ranger on songs like "Hallelujah" is terrific. He also takes baby steps to broaden himself stylistically. "Stuck" is one of his liveliest songs to date, highlighted by a ripping Latin guitar solo, and the title cut favors a more worshipful pop sound than the usual folk. Both "Strong" and "Gratitude" are catchy enough to be potential radio singles—"I Worship" is actually the first to be pitched to stations, sonically resembling the acoustic pop of Rich Mullins and Caedmon's Call.

Also working in eLi's favor is the smaller production budget, which lends itself better to his folk-pop style while calling attention to more impressive musicianship; the ForeFront albums always felt a little too glossy. All of this suggests that Gratitude is a strong step ahead of eLi's previous releases. If only there were more depth to his songwriting; it's not shallow, but it isn't nearly as provocative or poetic as Andrew Peterson, Steven Delopoulos, or Bebo Norman either. Between that, the familiar sound, and the relatively smaller distribution, it's unlikely eLi will attract many new fans with Gratitude. It's a safe assumption, however, to say that fans thirsting for more from this artist will enjoy this as much as his previous work, if not more.

Note: Gratitude isn't available in stores until late April, but you can currently order a copy through eLi's site,