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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

I Find You

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Aug
I Find You
Sounds like … piano-driven adult contemporary similar to Scott Krippayne, Michael O'Brien, NewSong, and Ronnie Freeman, with occasional piano flourishes reminiscent of Bruce HornsbyAt a Glance … Jimmy Fedd shows a lot of potential on his debut as a talented songwriter and piano man, but too much of it is bogged down in routine Christian pop sounds

The CD packaging for I Find You, Jimmy Fedd's Doxology Records debut, includes the record label's mission statement: "A label devoted to introducing songs of blessing and praise, artists with a servant's heart, and resources to nourish the church today." That's not to say Doxology artists like Allen Asbury and Shannon Wexelberg are necessarily striving to make worship albums, but they are writing music for the church. Considering that all 10 songs on Fedd's I Find You are simultaneously offered as accompaniment tracks, it's clear that these artists are creating music for other artists to perform in their churches as praise offerings. It might also be viewed as the adult contemporary pop equivalent to gospel music, both southern and traditional. In that sense, Fedd is well-matched for the label.

Fedd also brings an impressive resumé. The New Jersey singer/songwriter grew up learning piano, trumpet, violin, organ, and accordion, and studied at Boston's prestigious Berklee School of Music (where Out of the Grey attended). After his father's unexpected death, Fedd transferred closer to home at Rutgers University, graduating with a degree in Music Education. Fedd later won the grand prize at the Gospel Music Association's annual Seminar in the Rockies, prompting a move to Nashville to pursue a music career. He took a position leading worship at Nashville's Christ Church, and after six years became known for worship choruses like "Faithfully Forever" and "Jesus." In 2002, he participated in an album with the Christ Church Choir, and was then approached by Doxology to release a solo album, produced by Pete Kipley (MercyMe, Kristy Starling) and Kent Hooper (Scott Krippayne, David).

It's a little annoying how often Christian artists who play piano are compared to Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Hornsby, and even Keith Green—even when they don't have the instrumental chops to back up such comparisons. Well, here's an artist who can play impressively. The title track, about Jesus being the reason for change in our lives, features some impressive jazzy piano with a funky bass line. It's much more sophisticated than the typical Christian adult contemporary sound. Fedd sounds much like Scott Krippayne on "Pieces" (yet another predictable song about God glorified through nature), but it's helped by nice touches of jazz and a good piano solo. His occasional fingerwork is appropriately compared to Bruce Hornsby's in the press materials.

Some of the other slower songs feature bluesy piano flourishes reminiscent of Billy Joel—like the soulful ballad "Anymore," which includes a nice Hammond organ solo. "Walking out with Gold" teeters close to cheesy '70s elevator music, but it's saved by the gospel undertones that slowly build as the song progresses. The gospel influences also save "This Is Our Prayer," another soulful ballad (co-written with Krippayne) that begins by sounding routine but finishes powerfully with an inspiring petition: "That we love one another/Stand with each other, praying for peace/For the one thing we know/That You're the God of creation/Be the hope for our nation in need."

Unfortunately, these glimpses of instrumental proficiency aren't as commonplace as they should be, and the good parts of I Find You get bogged down in routine Christian pop production á la 4Him, NewSong, and Russ Lee. "Always Be With You" is an upbeat alternative to Michael W. Smith's "Friends" that's particularly predictable in its sound and writing: "I don't want to see you cry, and I don't want to say goodbye/But I know my heart will always be with you." Not surprisingly, a simple praise anthem has also been included, "Sweet Aroma of Praise," which has some good Scripture-inspired verses but a flat and simplistic chorus of "Hallelujah, Lord we praise You/Hallelujah, Lord we love You." The piano-driven inspirational ballad "Oh My Soul" fares a little better as a Ronnie Freeman or Michael O'Brien styled song good for performance in church.

If only the strong inventive musicianship extended to the pop arrangements, then this album would rise above its commonplace sound. Still, there is great potential here with a new worship leader and songwriter who can actually play an impressive piano solo. I Find You isn't bad for a first effort and generally succeeds in presenting inspirational pop anthems for the church. But Jimmy Fedd and his producer should next time focus on developing his strengths in order to avoid creating just another typical Christian adult contemporary album.