Music Inspired by The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Sep
- Waiting for the World to Fall—Jars of Clay
- Remembering You—Steven Curtis Chapman
- Open Up Your Eyes—Jeremy Camp
- Hero—Bethany Dillon
- Lion—Rebecca St. James
- New World—tobyMac
- I Will Believe—Nichole Nordeman
- Turkish Delight—David Crowder Band
- More Than It Seems—Kutless
- You're the One—Chris Tomlin
Remember when movies typically generated soundtrack albums, either the original score or a collection of songs featured in the film? Nowadays "inspired by" albums seem more the norm, offering songs thematically related to the film, though not necessarily in it. And since this particular film doesn't even release until December 2005, it generally means the contributing artists wrote and recorded their material several months in advance without having seen the final production. But the Christian music industry is even keener on the concept of albums inspired by best-selling novels, and this particular book is imaginative and beloved enough to inspire any songwriter.
However, the project could fall short depending on your definition of "inspired by." If this album was a class assignment in which students were asked to write songs (or poems) inspired by a given book, all 11 would certainly pass. But half the class would lose points for failing to accurately follow the assignment, assuming the expectation is for the work to clearly reflect the themes or imagery of the novel. Though not inappropriate, you wouldn't try to represent
Similarly, six of the tracks handle the source material a little too broadly. Jars of Clay's "Waiting for the World to Fall" is a fine return to the melodic pop/rock of their
Two songs were written with the character Edmund's misguided perspective in mind, but neither is specific enough. It's still nice to hear Jeremy Camp write beyond his usual vertical focus in "Open Up Your Eyes," and while Chris Tomlin's "You're the One" is essentially another catchy worship song from him, he delivers it with a more rocking sound than he's known for. Bright and catchy "Hero" is Bethany Dillon's second Narnia song after "New" on her
Hard as it might be to write about Narnia, five artists remain true to the spirit of the book. Rebecca St. James offers a love song to Jesus in the guise of "Lion," yet the dark Euro pop richly plays into the mystery and duality of Aslan/Jesus with more poetic lyricism than expected from this artist: "Feels like I'm living in the lion's mouth, but the lion is an angel." Nichole Nordeman's "I Will Believe" presents alternative pop stronger than most of her Brave album, using the differing qualities of the Pevensie children as examples of hope amidst adversity. "New World" is the rapcore rocker you'd expect from tobyMac, deftly intertwining faith and fantasy with clear references to the book. Kutless does similar with their well-produced rock anthem, "More Than It Seems." But the prize for most inventive offering goes to David Crowder Band's "Turkish Delight," a quirky disco number about sinful temptation that cleverly captures a key scene in the book—exactly what this collection needs more of.
The album is nevertheless enjoyable throughout, and despite the variety of producers, Chris Lord-Alge keeps it consistent with top-notch sound mixing. Fans of any of the contributing artists will not be disappointed by the music—it's all in step with successful past material in every case. But there was a missed opportunity here to explore new musical territory, expressing key themes pertaining to Lewis's book with specific references to the story, or at least simply evoking the fanciful imagery. Some of the artists deliver, but too bad more didn't step up to the challenge of writing outside their comfort zone. In short, the album is safe … but it's also good.