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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Made to Shine

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Made to Shine
Sounds like … hook-laden pop/rock in the spirit of Gavin DeGraw and Mark Schultz, with additional nods to Michael W. Smith, Train, Kevin Max, downhere, and John Elefante.At a glance … Webster clearly has a gifted ear for classic rock and catchy songwriting on this impressive and infectious national debut.Track ListingMade to ShineCome AliveMiracleReal LoveGive Me LoveNowWait for MeRise AboveHeavy LoadPick Me UpAll for You

This Indianapolis twenty-something has been gunning for a career in music much of his life, recording his first independent album back in high school. Since then, John David Webster has gradually developed a solid resume as an emerging artist, forging a strong relationship with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and performing at a number of Graham's Crusades as well as other national worship events. His national debut Made to Shine reflects his rapid growth as an entertainer, putting three years of smartly crafted songwriting on display.

Artists described as piano-based pop/rock these days typically lean toward schmaltzy adult contemporary. There's some of that here, but Webster manages to combine the spark of Mark Schultz's self-titled debut with the gutsier rock of Gavin DeGraw and the qualities that made milestones out of Michael W. Smith's classic albums—neo-classic rock by way of the '80s. The dude can rock at the piano when he wants, apparent from the DeGraw-meets-Counting Crows sound of the title track. It's also striking how much he sounds like Kevin Max or downhere on the more modern rocking "Miracle" and the heavier "Rise Above." Elsewhere, Webster draws on Schultz/Smith styled AC-pop for the prayerful power ballad "Now," bubbly "Give Me Love," and the passionate "Wait for Me."

Webster's words are uncomplicated and faith-based without relying on cliché. But like Smith, his greatest strengths are melody and performance. He excels at constructing catchy melodies, suitably varying the sound of each song so that even the weaker songs are memorable. And his impressive pop/rock voice combines the powerhouse qualities of Schultz and John Elefante—check out those rock yowls on "Come Alive." Displaying much promise and skill as a new artist and songwriter, John David Webster is likely be remembered as one of the year's best on both counts.