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The Sweet Life

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Sep
The Sweet Life
Sounds like … the inspirational pop and adult contemporary of Avalon, Point of Grace, Celine Dion, Evie Tornquist, Cindy Morgan, Rachael Lampa, and othersAt a glance … though the album has some powerful moments, it lacks the substance and stylistic diversity to sustain interest over all eleven tracksTrack ListingWaterPowerlessBe StillLay It DownThe Other WomanThe Sweet Life (La Dolce Vita)You Move HeavenHazel EyesSomething About the RainGrieve for YouFunny

For those needing a brush-up on their Avalon history, Cherie Adams joined the group in 1998 as Nikki Hassman's replacement, only to part ways after 2002's Oxygen album to pursue full time ministry and home life. Three years later, she's finally released her debut The Sweet Life, making her the fifth member of Avalon to release a solo album after Hassman, Jody McBrayer, Janna Long, and Greg Long.

Adams has a terrific voice, and though the production isn't first-rate, it's not too shabby for an independent project either; some of the guitar work in particular is quite excellent. Radio single "Water" is the standout, a smart application of Peter walking on the water to our own lives as a reminder to focus on Jesus, set to upbeat pop with an ethnic flavor. Nearly as good is "The Other Woman," which expresses the struggle with sinful nature through AC pop that resembles a funkier Point of Grace.

Because Adams co-wrote eight of the songs, this album is also more personal than the average inspirational pop project. "Hazel Eyes" is a romantic tribute to her husband, while "Funny" serves as a poignant response to the death of Avalon collaborator and friend Grant Cunningham. "Grieve for You" is the dramatic highpoint, fully demonstrating Adams' powerful vocal range in a heartfelt plea to a wayward soul.

Alas, Adams foregoes the opportunity to stretch herself musically, weighing the album down with eight predictable ballads that make the overall sound too homogenous and soggy. The Sweet Life would have benefited greatly from some stylistic diversity, not counting the painfully dated sounding smooth jazz of "Something About the Rain." This is a cut above other more mundane and formulaic inspirational pop recordings, but there isn't quite enough substance to sustain the album over eleven tracks.

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