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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Pressing On

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Pressing On
Sounds like … the same adult contemporary of 4Him, NewSong, Phillips, Craig & Dean, and early Steven Curtis Chapman, as performed by First Call, Larnelle Harris, Michael O'Brien, and othersAt a glance … extremely tired and formulaic inspirational pop arrangements and production hamper what could have been an interesting concept album about the Apostle Paul's writingsTrack ListingThree Days BlindSoonGrace to YouAt the Name of JesusLiving SacrificesYou Are Enough for MeDying ChurchesThe Greatest of ThesePressing OnNothing Can Separate UsAs We Go

Songwriters Scott Krippayne, Steve Siler, and Tony Wood have previously teamed for Celtic Cry and David, original multi-artist projects that delved into the stories of the Scottish Covenanters and the shepherd king, respectively. Now comes the self-explanatory concept album Pressing On: Songs Inspired by the Journey of the Apostle Paul.

After opening with "Three Days Blind," which summarizes Paul's conversion experience outlined in Acts, this inspirational pop recording explores ten of the apostle's best-known themes from his letters. The title track comes from Philippians 3:12-21, while "Living Sacrifices" draws from Romans 12:1-3 to express the Christian life of servitude. Paul's famous ode to love in 1 Corinthians 13 underscores "The Greatest of These," and his secret to contentment found in Philippians 4:11-13 is central to "You Are Enough for Me." All are performed by some of the best voices in inspirational pop, including Michael O'Brien (NewSong), Larnelle Harris, Corey Emerson, worship leader Travis Cottrell, and most notably, a reunion of the original members of First Call.

Unfortunately, Pressing On doesn't distinguish itself from countless other formulaic pop recordings released since First Call's last recording together. The string-drenched pop/rock arrangement of "Three Days Blind" sounds far too much like several Steven Curtis Chapman and 4Him classics, while the overly dramatic "Dying Churches" resembles imitation Steve Green. The title track offers the most life, with an upbeat AC pop sound reminiscent of Paul Colman.

Both David and Krippayne's Gentle Revolution proved how ordinary songs can become extraordinary when rendered with thoughtful arrangements and instrumentation. Here the thoughtfulness is missing, despite production from Kent Hooper on all three recordings. Though less discriminating inspirational pop listeners will still embrace it, most will find Pressing On almost numbing in its musical mediocrity—a great idea with forgettable execution.