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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The Bridge

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Jun
The Bridge
Sounds like … the contemporary worship of Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Paul Baloche, and others, but performed with a soulful AC pop flair reminiscent of The Katinas, Selah, Darwin Hobbs, and Israel HoughtonAt a glance … Anthony Evans offers some enjoyably soulful versions of contemporary worship standards, as well as a couple of meaningful ballads about why we worship, but too much of The Bridge relies on straightforward arrangements of oft-covered materialTrack Listing Glory to the King Blessed Be Your Name Lord I Give You My Heart / How Great Is Our God Wonderful, Merciful Savior Your Name Everlasting God In Christ Alone Here I Am to Worship Let It Rain The Way You Love Me Meaningless (acoustic)

Though INO Records is a diverse label with a roster ranging from Sandi Patty and MercyMe to Derek Webb and P.O.D., gospel and R&B have never been the company's specialty. So it's nice to see that after two albums and a brief taste of independence, Anthony Evans found a new home with EMI Gospel, a better label fit for his particular style. Naturally, there was a period of transition for the singer as he wondered where God was leading him. That journey is reflected in the title of his third studio project, The Bridge, referring to the "place where God is taking us from what he had, to what he has in store."

Hmm, based on the album's content, I would have guessed it referred to the bridge between gospel and contemporary worship, a growing trend spearheaded by the likes of Israel Houghton and Darwin Hobbs. Evans' message is that we are not created to understand everything, but rather to trust and worship the Lord through all things—a great point worthy of exploration through original songwriting both heartfelt and introspective. Instead, The Bridge takes the predictable approach, primarily offering covers of familiar worship songs like "How Great Is Our God" and "Here I Am to Worship."

But Evans certainly knows a thing or two about worship, as does co-producer Nathan Nockels (Passion, Tim Hughes). The album is at its best when the arrangements offer something new and soulful, like the '70s styled reinterpretation of Lincoln Brewster's "Glory to the King" and a version of "In Christ Alone" that resembles John Legend or Smokie Norful. Infusing Matt Redman's "Blessed Be Your Name" with soul enjoyably transforms it into something like "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers. Evans also shows impressive vocal prowess with the repetitive worship chorus "Let It Rain."

Those are the exceptions, however, with most of the R&B influences too light and subtle on the album's remainder. An inspirational pop arrangement of "Wonderful Merciful Savior," for example, doesn't sound all that different from Selah's, and aside from some backing gospel vocals, "Everlasting God" is generally identical to versions by Brewster, Chris Tomlin, and Brenton Brown.

At least Evans touches on the album's intended theme with two poignant originals, the inspirational ballads "Meaningless" and "The Way You Love Me." The Bridge would have benefitted from more like these, effectively reminding us of the importance of why we worship. Instead, Evans seems generally content demonstrating how to worship, like hundreds of other artists before him over the last decade, though he admittedly does it well.

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