Sounds like … sophisticated pop, jazz and folk for fans of Sting, Rich Mullins, John Mayer, Andrew Peterson, and Matt Wertz
At a glance … though it doesn't match the excellence of his critically acclaimed 2007 collection, this batch is pensive and heartfelt in its own right
When we last heard from Jeff Caylor in 2007, his ambitious, folk-flanked pop album Okay finished at No. 5 in our best Christian albums of the year list (above Switchfoot, David Crowder Band and Relient K). Much of the praise from our panel of critics had to do with his sophisticated songwriting style, ultra-smooth vocals, and a warm sonic palette that made the material instantly memorable.
Such acclaim was a tall order to follow, and while What Birds Dream is certainly appealing, it's not quite as okay as Okay. Perhaps it stems from the busyness of moving to Hong Kong (where he serves as a worship leader), or maybe Caylor's just going for a more placid direction. There's a slightly softer sound and less poetic approach to the pen, replaced by laid-back rhythms and a generalized inspirational angle.
Still, there's are reasons to applaud, including the ambient pop of "Grace in the Meantime," the jazzy reflective "Waiting for the Winter to End," and the sample-enhanced "Change Everything." While Caylor could've kicked up the attitude a bit, he's still relatively sharp on all levels.
Others worth noting:
GiuseppeNow Sings My Soul
Style: classical/inspirational; Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Il Divo
In a nutshell: The track listing may be typical ("How Great Thou Art," "His Eye Is On the Sparrow"), but Giuseppe's voice is anything but. With a range that rivals many of today's "popera" sensations, this operatic experience is nothing short of heavenly.
Style: world; Rich Mullins, Peter Gabriel, Jim Brickman
In a nutshell: An entirely instrumental hymns album that centers around the hammered dulcimer is certainly a narrow niche. But anyone who hears Ted Yoder's complex arrangements will likely agree this is a unique album that interprets church standards in a remarkably refreshing way.
Salt Light CityHomemade Goodness!
Style: children's pop; Laurie Berkner Band, Waterdeep
In a nutshell: The tone of this project is mostly acoustic, but extremely upbeat and peppy. While it's sure to get the little ones jumping for Jesus, the duo would be best scaling back the enthusiasm a notch to avoid irritating the kiddies' parents.
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Copyright © 2009 Andree Farias subject to licensing agreement with Christian Music Today. Click for reprint information.