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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

House of a Thousand Dreams

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Aug
House of a Thousand Dreams
Sounds like … quiet country/folk pop that recalls the work of John Denver, Emmylou Harris, Don McLean, Anne Murray, and Dan FogelbergAt a glance … Allan Hall does what he knows best and does it well, though this often gentle and melancholic album may bore as many as it inspiresTrack ListingGulf Coast HighwayDown in the River to PrayScorns of TimePrayer in OpenHickory WindNearer My God to TheeBetween the Two of ThemPaul & Peter WalkedHouse of a Thousand DreamsSummer of My DreamsBluebird Fly

After five years and four albums worth of strong music sales and acclaim, all three members of Selah are taking a crack at solo projects. Most people are initially drawn to the inspirational trio because of the Smith siblings' knockout vocals, but Allan Hall is the group's secret weapon. Not just a talented pianist and tenor harmony, he's also a potent song finder and interpreter, with a knack for uncovering beautiful musical obscurities and making them sound fresh. Because of this and the fact that Hall co-produced House of a Thousand Dreams with Jason Kyle (Selah), it's not surprisingly the most Selah-like of the three artists' new solo efforts.

Hall's love of Americana comes to the foreground here with roots pop colored by country, folk, and bluegrass. His quiet rendition of Emmylou Harris' "Prayer in Open D" recalls a young John Denver, as does a cover of Gram Parsons' "Hickory Wind." Listeners will be especially drawn to the winsome story songs, such as the Irish flavored Nanci Griffith classic "Gulf Coast Highway." A sure favorite is the Mickey Cates penned "Between the Two of Them," popularized by Claire Lynch, who sings with Hall on the southern gospel of "Paul & Peter Walked" and "Scorns of Time," which she co-wrote. Such is the musical tapestry woven on this album.

Interestingly, Hall's is the most spiritually subtle of the Selah solos, though he touches on his faith with covers of "Down in the River to Pray" (featured in O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and a Selah-esque version of the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee." It's also the most mellow, simplistic, and schmaltzy of the three, but to his credit, Hall presents a unique musical approach that will appeal to fans of Selah and classic country pop.