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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Love, Peace & Happiness

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Feb
Love, Peace & Happiness
Sounds like … Danceable pop reminiscent—but not derivative—of Destiny's Child, En Vogue or TLCAt a glance … With thoughtful lyrics, sleek vocal stylings and smooth production that makes you want to move, this sister-trio's still going strong after 10 yearsTrack ListingMake WayJust the WayLove, Peace & HappinessSoldiersI KnowIt's YouShoulda ListenedCould've Been MeDrama FreeTennesse Girls InterludeSecretSincerely

Several Christian girl-groups have cut respectable dance-pop tracks over the past 10 years, but the sleek vocal stylings and smooth production of Out of Eden (sisters Andrea Baca and Lisa and Danielle Kimmey) make this group dance-pop's gold standard. Although their music is similar to Destiny's Child, En Vogue or TLC, OOE has its own sound. Behind the leadership of lead writer/producer Lisa, the group's music is unmistakably message-oriented—and undeniably Christian—but without the sugary lyrics or overbearing religiosity that would get you laughed out of a dance club.

Love, Peace & Happiness, the group's fifth album, opens with "Make Way," a thumping, uptempo number that promises "something more than my new car or my brand-new shoes/my Burberry this or my twenty-twos." The track includes a southern-flavored, yeah-it's-that-crunk rap from the gritty-voiced Mr. Del. The album follows through on its promise with "Just the Way," a funky, guitar-driven groove that features crisp harmony and breathy, femme phrasing, especially on the repeated line "I've never been so happy."

Next comes the title track's bright organ, pulsing bass, and a fresh, block-party vibe that celebrates God's gifts. The listener can almost feel the sunshine and taste the barbecue. "Soldiers," has a darker, more techno sound. Though the bass line and looped track feel a bit familiar, the song has a fun, vaguely militant feel, largely due to the call-and-response chanting throughout. Listen for it at a skating rink near you.

Next up is the smooth, mid-tempo ballad "I Know," with themes similar to "Sarah Jane" from No Turning Back and "Paradise" from This Is Your Life. It's a message of concern and hope for teens who've fallen victim to a fallen world. Passionate, soaring vocals, an echo effect and piano and harp give this a song a sense of desperation and hint at the writer's frustration with the bleak situation. "It's You" is the group's bouncy, upbeat tribute to the One who "picked me up off the ground, turned my life around."

"Shoulda' Listened" is an acoustic-feeling R&B listen that tells the story of a young woman who has been burned by a bad relationship. Admirably (and unlike many of its mainstream counterparts—think Whitney Houston's whimpering "Heartbreak Hotel" or Destiny's Child's haughty "Survivor"), the cautionary tale focuses less on the woman's reasons for bitterness and more on her responsibility to listen to the voices of wisdom God's placed in her life. It ends on a positive note, as she determines to learn from her mistakes and listen in the future.

In "Drama Free," the singer warns a gossipy friend that she's changed and no longer wants to be privy to the friend's high-drama hijinks and constant he-said/she-said. "Secret" is a relaxed ballad encouraging listeners to be ready to share their hope in Christ.

The album ends with "Sincerely," a slower, harmony-laden homage to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Lyrics include: "Didn't have to make the sacrifice/Didn't have to come and save my life/Didn't have to pay the price for me/Sincerely, I'm not worthy."

Love, Peace & Happiness is a strong offering, blending the sisters' strong vocals and up-to-the-minute production techniques without sounding too manufactured. It's good party music with reflective lyrics that indicate real depth beyond the sampling and layered harmonies. The overall vibe is more relaxed and reflective than This Is Your Life (with the unforgettably sassy, hard-driving "Different Now"), but that's not a drawback. This album gives the listener a look at why the trio has been so successful to this point … and hints at the possibilities for continued success.