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BETHANY DILLON (2004)
Bethany Dillon - Click to view!Most 15-year-old girls aren't writing music about being a cultural/spiritual revolutionist. And most of them can't sing about it while playing the guitar either. Bethany Dillon overcomes these odds and joins the recent recruitment of young teenage artists. Unlike her predecessors, however, Dillon embraces a Jennifer Knapp style that sounds more timeless than basic teenybopper pop. She emanates a maturity beyond her years that shines through every element of this album.

Since Dillon is revolting against the norm for teenage girl singers—both stylistically and thematically—she opens her album with the song "Revolutionaries." She fights the voices of conformity, singing, "Dreaming all the time / It's not foolish / Your flood of life giving words / They will refresh." To serve as a bookend, the culminating track "A Voice Calling Out" continues the theme of anti-conformity: "I see a generation rising up / No longer accepting lies / Running to the battlefield / And losing their lives." Both of these songs embrace a casual rock flavor and even contain a set of bagpipes for emotional response in "A Voice Calling Out." I admit, I was shocked at first by Dillon's cover of "Lead Me On," but she has the perfect voice, attitude, and musical presence to cover the Amy Grant classic. She'll have good success in re-introducing this song to the new youth culture simply because she maintains the rock roots.

However, Dillon does branch into a typical girl album through the power-pop of "All I Need" and "Exodus (Faithful)." These songs sound too trite and cliché for the obvious maturity of this performer. Most of the tracks suffer from bits of over-production (too much violin, a bit of BGV-abuse), but these two go over the top. On a positive note, these issues happened to be the only mishaps I discovered. While I could make snide remarks about the obligatory "Dear Future Husband" song (which appears on all young/single/female singer albums), "For My Love" is saved by the casual acoustic and light mandolin. "Beautiful" also saves the tune, for it deals with fundamental issues of acceptance and worth (and includes delightful piano arpeggios). Dillon vocalizes desire to be accepted through simple lines: "I want to be beautiful / And make you stand in awe / Look inside my heart / and be amazed." A bit of this desire is answered in the jazz-energized "Why": "Why, this love that never leaves me / Why are You holding me tonight / Can't deny this love that is given me / Why, this love will never leave." Acceptance from the Savior never dissipates, and Dillon has gained enough wisdom to realize this fact.

Cheers to Bethany Dillon. She imparts gems of intelligence into her songs—a feat not often seen in the younger acts. Even the older generation could stand to take a taste of this project and catch a glimpse of her revolutionary desires.
- Hollie Stewart
July 2004
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