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Product: Audio CD
Title: Healing Rain
Label: Reunion
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
my humble, but firmly heartfelt opinion

Well, i have eagerly awaited the release of this album since i heard about it, but when i heard him play Healing Rain in concert (before it was released) i knew there was something special about this cd.

To listen to this cd, and reading its lyrics, is like being washed in a cool rain on a very parched day. From the very first words on the cd

"There's a place where I can go
Where the angels hear me pray
I want to change, yes, i need Your touch
I'm waiting here for You
And I fall at Your feet
I'll give it all until the day we meet"

it sets you in the right mood for the rest of the album; the heartfelt words of a man coming to his Lord, tired of trying on his own, needing the power of God to change him. The next song, the title track, flows very well with the layout of the album, right into the healing rain so crucial for a change so deep inside. With this change, well, your outlook on life is certainly bound to change as well, and we see this positive outlook in Live Forever. It's a beautifully done anthem to the hope we have in Christ to know there is more to life than this world! "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul!" (from Hebrews) Next is a more upbeat pop song of encouragement for those about to give up. A good song for young folks, but attractive enough in its pop style for adult listening as well. The fifth track on this album is a song Smitty wrote for his 18 year old daughter Whitney. It speaks of not letting people boo your dreams, even when they seem insane or stupid. Do not settle for the usual in life. Strive for excellence, because it IS POSSIBLE! Song six, Human Spark is particularly touching to me. The desperate questions of why we must suffer under this sinful nature are relayed in the verses and answered in the chorus, not with WHY we must suffer, but how we can handle it. That sadness spoken of in the chorus is a sadness i have felt for so long. It's not a depression, but it is there even in happy times, but the hope of heaven and a perfect world are the spark that keep us going in a dark world! How can anyone logically dispair with that hope?? :) The story line of the album then goes into a similar topic in We Can't Wait Any Longer. For a while now, Michael has been teaming up with the likes of Bono and Data to speak out in an effort to raise awareness of the Aids epedemic spreading through Africa. It's an issua close to his heart, and you can hear that through his voice as he sings "we can't wait any longer, they're crying out, doesn't it matter?? We can't wait any longer, no, no! To long in a slumber, shake it up, wake it up now! We can't wait any longer, no, no...." A very well done call for support. Then we follow this song with one that tells of the reason why we would respond to that track. This song is sucha simple truth that Jesus IS love that at first glance at the lyric sheet and it seems almost cheesy, but stop at moment. Think about it, how often do we really believe those cheesy lines in verse one, and how often do we really understand that Jesus is NOT standing passively by in your life, or letting you go? Come on. It's true. Next up is a ballad that follows one of Smitty's most prominent themes throughout his career. Real friendship (which is a great followup song to the previous song, because Jesus is a Real Friend to us is we let Him). A good remake of Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Water. Oldie but a goodie! ;) Then we hear Eagles Fly. An interesting stretch for Michael, kids will like it more, i think, but a good shot for him to try something new. (note: if you'll notice, it was produced by a man smitty has not collaborated with in previous albums.... so a new flavor no doubt.) But the lyrics are fantastic anyway. And then to close this journey through a healing rain, Michael closes with a gorgeous piece describing how all we really have in life is God, but it's ENOUGH. Everything else fails, but this love and fire from God, our life force holds strong.

All in all, Smitty has tried some new things musically on this album, and it has been a GOOD thing for him to stretch himself this way. The result is marvellous! He blends extremely personal lyrics with very befitting melodies, and the music blends so well together and is so well done it practically screams for you to come back and hear it again!

See the heart behind the lyric, and listen to the way each songmoves perfectly into the next with subject matter, and it is an amazing journey into the soul of just another human, experiencing the same things as you and me. Come away refreshed.

so give it a listen, and thanks for checking it out,
Jen :O)

p.s. for those who got a copy at Family Christian Stores, there is a bonus track of Smitty singing Healing Rain at a concert. Personally, i don't care for it much because he sounds like he's got a cold ... but that is just my opinion! hehe.

Product: Audio CD
Title: The Cosmic Game
Label: Esl Music
Artist: Thievery Corporation
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Good, but lacking personality...

This is a good album. It is very atmospheric, mellow and stylish. The quality of the endeavor is obvious. That said, I came away a bit dissappointed with this album.

The Thievery Corporation feel is pervasive here although the focus has narrowed so that there is less variety to this album. However, what really is missing from this album is personality. In past albums the music enhanced the vocals and was it's own entity. It had a character that made it enjoyable.

With The Cosmic Game the emphasis seems to have to shifted onto the vocals. The singers are the ones who carry the music with the instruments fading into the background. There is no longer an interplay of vocals and instruments.

Thievery Corporation was always downtempo, but this album is a bit too laid back. I'd venture to say that it feels like they weren't trying very hard with this album.

All that aside, by no means is it a bad album. There are a handful of good songs in there. However, I think the previous three albums are superior. In particular I recommend The Richest Man in Babylon.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Enchantment
Label: Sony
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
soothing and friendly

I love this album! It makes me happy and its addictive. Once I start listening I can not stop. It's good at home or the office or in the car. Love it!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Varese Sarabande 25th Anniversary Celebration
Label: Varese Records
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
A great overview of a great record company!

I bought this CD as a collector's item. Being a diehard soundtrack collecter, I have most of this material on other CDs. It has music I have never been able to find (noteably: Raggedy Man and Eye Of The Needle) and is a great overview of the history of Varese. The notes and pictures in the booklet are also very nice. I appreciate Varese and what they have done for us film music lovers over the last 25 years (has it been that long?).