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Take Me Back

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Apr
Take Me Back
Sounds like … adult contemporary pop strongly influenced by the likes of Steven Curtis Chapman and MercyMe, with similarities to Casting Crowns, Warren Barfield, and many othersAt a glance … it's not that the famed ex-baseball player doesn't have anything to say or hasn't made a well-produced album, but the music is unfortunately lifeless paint-by-numbers Christian adult contemporary. Track ListingI Can't Wait to Go HomeThey WentHow LongTake Me BackI RememberRainCome to MeGreat Is Thy FaithfulnessWash Over MeTrusting in LoveYou're ThereAmazing GracemessageA Prayer Away

Kent Bottenfield is best known as a former major league pitcher who played for St. Louis, Chicago, Montreal, and Philly, among others. He retired in 2001 after a shoulder injury, but he remains active as a Christian speaker, songwriter, and vocalist. After recently settling in Brownsburg, Indiana, he has invested in a recording studio, produced for other independent artists, started his own record label, and now released his debut Take Me Back.

The guy's testimony literally has heart—a near fatal artery blockage in early 2005 has given him further perspective and poignancy. Aside from two hymn covers, all the songs on this hour-long album were co-written by Bottenfield. If only he wrote with more introspection or weight, instead of relying on generically written encouragements of faith. The album feels too long because of it, offering nothing that hasn't been said before in better-written songs.

Equally problematic is the sterile adult contemporary sound, which like so many other newcomers fails to distinguish itself from obvious Christian pop influences. The hopeful "I Can't Wait to Go Home" imitates Steven Curtis Chapman's "We Are Not Home Yet" too closely, and the title track about lost childhood innocence resembles several of MercyMe's ballads. With Casting Crowns and Warren Barfield also dominating radio, there's just nothing original or distinctive here.

Artists sometimes use their faith and beliefs as subjects in their music, while ministers sometimes use music to articulate their faith and beliefs. Neither one is more "Christian" than the other—they simply focus on different things. Bottenfield's testimony is strong and it makes him an effective speaker. But that's simply not enough to make Take Me Back an example of musical excellence.

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