Thursday, March 28, 2013

Music Review: Where Fear and Faith Collide by Michael Olson

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: A few good songs
Cons: Similar sounding songs; familiar themes and lyrics
The Bottom Line:
A sophomore effort
That doesn't rise above parts
So it's average

Mediocre Contemporary Adult Pop

I wasn't supper impressed with Michael Olson's debut, but I saw signs of promise. So I decided to give him another chance with Where Fear and Faith Collide. Unfortunately, there really hasn't been any change between the two discs. There are still signs of promise here, but it's mostly middle of the road pop.

Now that's not to say that I don't enjoy some of the songs. "On the Third Day" is the first radio single, and it's a fine song. As expected, it's a song that celebrates the new life we have because of the resurrection. Yet it takes images from nature to remind us that "Everything must die to rise again." It's got a nice mid-tempo rhythm with strong guitar. It screams to be sung along with, so I can understand why it was the first single.

Equally catchy is "If You Can Stop the World." Slightly faster, the drums and guitar start strong and never let go. Granted, there's nothing new about the topic, we can't do anything to stop God's love for us. Yet the idea of trying to stop the world to stop God's love for us is amusing.

"Tell Me Again" is a beautiful guitar ballad. The song is slow and tender with strings weaving in and out. It's a duet with Christian artist Sara Groves, and the two of them sound great together. The lyrics are great, too, as they recall God's promises and our need to be constantly reminded of them.

"Fear and Faith" has a strong bass presence in the beginning before the regular guitar comes in and takes over on this light rocker. I like this song about the struggle to step out in faith despite the fears we are feeling. Been there done that too many times.

So it's sounding like I like this disc, right? I do like individual songs. But taken as a whole, I find this disc pretty weak. I got it when it first came out in February, and I've listened to it off and on since then. Yet most of the songs haven't made that big an impression on me. Honestly, the song titles alone still don't trigger anything. I have to listen to the songs to remember what they sound like. And that's because, with a couple exceptions, they all sound the same. There's a slight change of tempo here or there, but they are all guitar heavy with the occasional appearance of a keyboard or other instrument for a few measures.

Then there are the lyrics. Even in the songs I've highlighted, there isn't too much original or new. Most of these themes are explored on many of the CD's in my collection. But the rest of the tracks are actually worse. There just isn't that much new here. And there's certainly nothing to think about when you turn the music off.

I really wanted to like this CD, but Where Fear and Faith Collide just doesn't offer that much to get excited about. It's not bad, and I can see myself giving it a couple spins a year in the future. But it's not something I will turn to regularly.

CD Length: 39:10
1. On the Third Day
2. If You Can Stop the World
3. Unchanged
4. Our First Love
5. God is with Us
6. Tell Me Again
7. Fear & Faith
8. Helpless
9. Everywhere
10. Drawing Near

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