Thursday, March 7, 2013

Music Review: Run the Earth, Watch the Sky by Chris Rice

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: 11 great songs
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Chris's best CD
Songs to challenge, encourage
And make you smile, too

Still a Great CD a Decade Out

I've been a die hard Chris Rice fan since his first CD came out. I've noticed something, however. Each of his CD's takes awhile to grow on me. Not sure why that is, but I never like it right from the start. Run the Earth, Watch the Sky is an exception. The first couple weeks I had it, I couldn't stop listening to it. Even now, three years later, it's a favorite I have to pull out multiple times a year. Chris's blend of pop and folk music is perfect here, and his lyrics make you stop and think.

The CD opens with the first radio release, "The Other Side of the Radio," which talks about the connection we have because of these songs. Yes, it's not at all deep, but it's a fun song anyway with a catchy tune and upbeat rhythm.

"Everything's Ok" talks about how God uses people to brighten our mood when everything seems wrong with the world. The imagery in the song is wonderful with such lines as "I saw the willow weeping a casual sigh" and "I blow a kiss through the dark/sails on the thunder and reaches Heaven's heart."

"Nonny Nonny" includes the CD's title in its chorus. The idea is behind the title is also explained in the chorus "Playing hard and waiting for the day." While the takes a nostalgic look back at childhood, it also looks forward to all the time in eternity with the One who has given us so many pleasant things on earth. I especially like the second verse that includes some references to Narnia.

"Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)" is a reminder that at every point in our spiritual journey we need Jesus. The song features piano, a change from the previous guitar based tracks. It sounds simple, but it helps keep the focus on the great lyrics. "Now your burden's lifted/And carried far away/And precious blood has washed away the to Jesus...."

"Smile" is the cry of a heart longing to be with God. The first time through, it reminded me of "Missing You" from his second CD Past the Edges, and on repeated listenings, I caught a couple lines from that song in the background. This song again so expertly captures the impatient waiting along the journey in the chorus "Every minute takes an hour/Every inch feels like a mile/'Til I won't have to image/And I finally get to see You smile!"

"8th Grade," the other nostalgic song on the CD, takes nostalgia and twists it on its ear, reminding us that the God who got us through the past will get us through the future as well. The verses are based on his personal memories of 8th grade, but it's the chorus that makes it universal. "Why does the past always seem safer/Maybe because at least we know we made it/And why do we worry about the future/When every day will come just the way the Lord ordained it." This song also features a catchy melody. I like having it stuck in my head, however, because it makes me meditate on the truth in the lyrics.

"My Cathedral" and "Wonder" both are songs praising the Creator for his creation. The first song is about how easy it is to praise God surrounded by the beauty of his creation. My favorite of these, however, is "Wonder." Subtitled "A conversation with the stars" it focuses on God's glory being displayed in the night sky. The few times a year I get to see stars (one of the things I miss about living in a city), this song goes through my head.

"Me and Becky" is a catchy tune that reminds us we need to get out of our comfort zones to share the Gospel with those who haven't heard.

"Spare an Angel" is a haunting prayer to God to comfort a friend in need. Again, it's slow and piano based, and again, the lyrics are wonderful. "I don't know what else to pray this time/Maybe an angel can lead her lonesome heart away to Jesus' side."

And finally, "Circle Up" closes the CD with a picture of all of us praising God in Heaven. It picks the tempo up after the last song and really closes the CD on a note of celebration.

Going over this CD again, I was struck by how many wonderful truths are in these songs. Chris Rice has grown as a man and songwriter in the time between CD's.

I wish the gap between this CD and his last one hadn't been so long, but if this mature, thought provoking CD is the result, I'll take it. I can't say enough good things about Run the Earth, Watch the Sky and will be enjoying it for quite some time to come.

CD Length: 45:34

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