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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Pollyanna's Attic

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 May
Pollyanna's Attic
Sounds like … acoustic-driven pop in the vein of Shawn Colvin, Allison Krauss and Amy Grant's Behind the EyesAt a glance … while this doesn't stray too much from what's she's done before, Arends invests more in her lyrics this time around with rewarding resultsTrack Listing Just Pretending Something to Give What in the World The Wasteland Land of the Living To See Your Face Everybody Wants Everything More Is Less Free No Trespassing Not Alone I've Got a Hope

On what's essentially a refreshingly non-preachy commentary on modern culture, Carolyn Arends' Pollyanna's Attic is a marked departure from the sunnier, more radio-friendly material she's released in the past. Now she's not exactly going all Derek Webb on us here, but yet she isn't afraid to tackle weightier issues like loneliness, the empty quest for material wealth, and life's more difficult moments where Christians may even question their own beliefs. Before one assumes that this rather sobering subject matter means a depressing downer of an album, think again. Even in all the questioning moments Arends' voice—and perspective—evokes a sense of hope without forcing the requisite happy ending from a songwriting standpoint.

There's not a bad song in the bunch, and some moments stand out more than others—including the energetic opener "Just Pretending" with its relevant message and clever turns of phrase like "Family full of achievers/Beat the Jones and be the Cleavers/Give the lawn a manicure/No rough edges, that's for sure," and the somber Mark Heard song "To See Your Face" that articulates a desire that every Christian has had one time or another: "If I ever get to hear Your voice/And I can take it/I'm certain that I will listen/To the better choice/And I will make it."

"More Is Less" is also a poignant and catchy take on the truth that having all the world has to offer will actually leave you empty in the end. And while there's ultimately a few lulls musically by album's end (personally, 10 tracks would have been better than 12 here), the project is a step in a more progressive direction for the singer/songwriter that'll likely throw a few listeners for a loop while eliciting a resounding "amen" from those bored with the usual candy-coated sentiments that's been served up again and again already in typical Christian music.

© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.