Friday, March 29, 2013

Music Review: How You Live by Point of Grace

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Songs of encouragement
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Great group, great music
Nothing deep or challenging
But songs you'll enjoy

Point of Grace Continues to Offer Songs of Praise and Encouragement

In some Christian music circles, admitting to being a Point of Grace fan is a bad thing. The female quartet is looked down upon because they don't write their own songs and their music rarely if ever looks at the bad side of life. Dismissed as pop music for soccer moms, many people wish they'd start recording some songs that delved into deeper issues.

I am not one of them.

Now I will freely admit the group's flaws. (In fact, I think I just did.) But I find I like a good mix of the serious and the frothy, the rocky and the adult contemporary/pop. And when I'm looking for some light pop that still has some thoughtful lyrics, Point of Grace is an immediate choice. It certainly helps that they have tight harmonies as well, something I have always loved.

How You Live is their 11th studio recording. While it has twelve new tracks, it really offers little in the way of surprises. That will please long time fans like me but drive their critics up the wall.

The disc starts out with "All the World," a rocky intro that reminds us that everyone needs to hear about God's love. The strong drum track and driving guitar make it an opener that will quickly catch your ear.

The title track is the first slower song on the disc. "How You Live (Turn up the Music)" is a quiet song highlighted by acoustic guitar. The song encourages the listener to live each moment to the fullest. The lyrics are filled with cliches, I'll admit it. Things like "Don't spend your life looking back" and "Have what you want, but want what you have." Somehow, the combined wisdom of these cliches works to make you want to go out and grab life by the horns. (Great, the cliches have gotten to me.)

It wouldn't be a Point of Grace CD without a song devoted to pure encouragement. "He Believes in You" fills that slot nicely. Frankly, the song came at the perfect time for me. I'd been struggling recently with some issues and the reminder that God is behind me no matter what I am going through is exactly what I needed.

Strings and mandolin make appearances in several of the songs here, giving them just a hint of country. It's not enough to bother the country haters (It's not my favorite genre), but it does add some spice. The fiddle and steel guitar of "Any Way" are a good example. The fiddle and banjo are actually highlights of "On God's Green Earth," a song that celebrates the Creator through His Creation. And the mandolin blends well with the other instruments on the upbeat "Fearless Heart."

The disc ends with the breathtaking "Before the Throne of Grace." Written like a modern hymn, the song is completely a cappella. The four ladies blend seamlessly, making for absolutely gorgeous harmonies. Making it even better, the song reflects on the amazing gift we have in God's grace.

Another favorite is "Fight." It has a strong, rocky beat that underscores the lyrics. It's really a song of confession as the ladies sing of the need to surrender pride to God so He can lead us where He really wants us to go.

My favorite song on the disc by far is the ballad "Heal the Wound," a prayer to God to forgive our past sin but still leave a reminder so we don't forget where we came from. The song starts out with piano, but features lush strings come the first chorus. This really compliments the ladies' voices. Taken together, it's a beautiful and humbling song.

This disc isn't going to change anyone's mind about this group. Those who dislike them will have their opinion confirmed. But those who love the group will be pleased to have more song by Point of Grace. I know How You Live will take its place in my Point of Grace rotation.

CD Length: 50:07
1. All the World
2. Fearless Heart
3. How You Live (Turn up the Music)
4. Any Way
5. He Believes in You
6. You are Good
7. Fight
8. On God's Green Earth
9. Heal the Wound
10. Broken Thing
11. Because You Are
12. Before the Throne of Grace

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