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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Let It Go

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Let It Go
Sounds like … that combination of quasi-U2 anthemic rock with worshipful tendencies, reminiscent of recent work by Delirious and newsboys, with some acoustic touches that echo Bebo Norman and Steven Curtis Chapman.At a glance … a lot of Let It Go is formulaic and old hat for Paul Colman, but he seems to be back on the right track as evidenced on at least some of the tracks.Track Listing Gloria (All God's Children) The One Thing Holding onto You Always (Forever) Sweet River I'm Coming Home Last Night in America I Owe It All Nothing Without You Symphony of the Redeemed My Brother Jack (live in New York City)

Paul Colman initially developed a strong following in his native Australia, first as an independent solo artist and then as the frontman for the Paul Colman Trio (PC3). In 2002, he brought that band to America and signed with Essential Records for their international debut, New Map of the World. The enjoyably catchy pop/rock effort yielded a string of radio hits and earned PC3 the 2003 Dove award for New Artist of the Year. A promising future seemed certain, so the trio rushed a follow-up with 2003'sOne that proved to be their downfall—a comparatively bland effort, widely panned by critics and bombing with listeners. In 2004, the trio parted with Essential and each other, the bandmates choosing to focus on personal ventures, leaving Colman to try and reestablish his solo career.

These last three years have clearly presented Colman with some extreme ups-and-downs. Not surprisingly, it forced this husband, father, and still burgeoning artist to do some serious soul-searching, seeking God's will for the next step. Out of that came a newfound desire to surrender to the Lord with complete reliance on him. Hence the title of Colman's vertically focused fourth solo album, Let It Go, released through a new deal with Inpop Records.

You can't help but root for Colman—a songwriter with a knack for tuneful melodies, a heart that wants to bring people to Christ through art, and a bold voice rooted in passion and sincerity. But just how does this album stack up against New Map and One? Not surprisingly, somewhere in between, but leaning more towards the pop catchiness that first endeared him to fans.

The album was produced by Ed Cash (Bebo Norman) and Vince Emmett (Rebecca St. James), though it sounds like it could have just as easily been helmed again by Monroe Jones or Brent Milligan. Nor would it have been surprising if the album were supervised by Inpop founder and head newsboy Peter Furler—the first single "Gloria" has the same quasi-U2 meets Delirious worshipful sound of newsboys' devotion album. Indeed, Let It Go sounds like a blended smoothie of its contributing artists. Colman's songs were co-written with the likes of Cash, Furler, Jason Ingram, and Hillsong Australia's Reuben Morgan, while pop duo Across the Sky contributes guest vocals on a couple of tracks. It's Colman's acoustic-meets-modern-pop approach topped off with familiar Christian pop convention.

At times, it works in Colman's favor—the aforementioned "Gloria" is superior in many ways to similar work on newsboys' recent albums, and "Nothing Without You" benefits from its powerful vocals and hooks. But "I'm Coming Home," about turning away from the world's temporary material trappings, feels too derivative of PC3's "Let Love Grow." And the underlying music of "Symphony of the Redeemed" is lacking, failing to live up to its awe-inspiring title. Colman's attempt to musically illustrate spiritual warfare in "Sweet River" demonstrates his inconsistency. The fearful verses recall the cool and dark Aussie edge of Midnight Oil—including some slick didgeridoo—but then it unfolds into a less than spectacular worship chorus of grace and surrender.

Colman is also hit-and-miss lyrically. Several songs adhere to the album's theme of dependence on God, but too many rely on the idea of God's eternal presence and unfailing love. The worshipful "Always" handles the message well, as does "The One Thing" while it contemplates, "I've questioned significance, meaning and relevance/Does the work I'm doing really matter at all?/Well I've questioned by friendships, alliance, dependence/Who will still be here when I fall?" Conversely, "Holding onto You" resorts to more formulaic lyrics like, "You never change/Your love remains," though Colman still elevates the song with his earnest sound.

This guy is capable of writing strong radio singles, but he's at his best when he tries to tackle the tougher issues of faith. The 9/11 inspired "Last Night in America" finds Colman at his most socially conscious and provocative, questioning whether or not a loving God could have allowed such immense tragedy to happen. Similarly, the acoustic "My Brother Jack" addresses how Christians tend to blow public relations with nonbelievers by an overzealous urge to lecture and judge rather than demonstrate patience and love—for which Colman deserves a resounding "Amen!"

All to say that Let It Go is a mixed bag in which Colman still seems to be finding his artistic footing. It's an album that at least puts him back on track with stronger material than his last musical endeavor, but Colman will need to hone and distinguish his creative skills a bit more to fully realize his potential as a recording artist.