- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2004 1 Mar
- Even If
- My Devotion
- Love Song
- All We Need to Know
- Tell Me
- Why Don't We Pray
- Delicate Child
- Missing Me
- Canto de Amor
Opportunity knocked in the form of a then-new reality show called "American Idol." Figuring it was worth a shot, Helton auditioned with 10,000 other contestants. He became a wild card contender, and ended up placing in the Top 5 the same season that Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini claimed the top two spots. In hindsight, Helton is thankful he finished no higher than he did; had he placed one rank higher, he would still be contractually bound to the show. Instead, Helton was free to consider recording contracts from several labels; he ultimately decided B-Rite Music, Kirk Franklin's home, was the best fit.
Considering the runaway success of both the television show and Clay Aiken's 2003 debut album, most people have a pretty good idea of what to expect from
Sure, there are simplistic ballads of unrequited love, like "Missing Me" (especially reminiscent of Bedingfield) and the R&B inflected "Tell Me." At first glance, "Forgive" seems to be a generic ballad of reconciliation, but lines like "Fill me with your spirit and your word" and "I need to find a way to forgive the way that you've forgiven me/To understand, to know that your plan is something that I don't always see" are pretty self-evident. The soulful pop ballad "Love Song" more clearly expresses itself as an offering of gratitude and devotion to God, as does "Even If," about the Lord's faithfulness and sovereignty. "My Devotion" is about building a relationship with Christ, setting the words to simple R&B pop with a nice Latin hip-hop breakdown.
The song with the most buzz (deservedly so) is "All We Need to Know." Co-written with Natalie Grant, it's a soaring pop ballad in the tradition of "American Idol," Clay Crosse and Greg Long, offering a comforting reminder that our lives are in God's hands. Similarly, there's "Delicate Child," another strong ballad centered on healing the painful experiences of his youth. In musical contrast, there's the energetic dance pop of "Freedom" and the slick R&B pop production of "Why Don't We Pray?"
This is all stuff you'd typically expect of a Christian pop album, and certainly not something I'd recommend to anyone bored to tears with the predictable music of AC radio or "American Idol." But let's give credit where it's due. This could have easily been a collection of cliché-ridden pop songs written by the usual tunesmiths in the industry. Instead, Helton has wisely contributed to the songwriting process, personalizing his material. Yes, it's sometimes generic, but at least it's