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Christin Cook
[ for the love ]


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For the Love - Click to view!Christian pop usually consists of three distinct angles. First, there's the pre-fabricated, teenybopper cheese that sells like hotcakes but requires no talent or artistry whatsoever to produce. Second, you have the adult contemporary category. You know, the stuff only your parents would listen to. Finally, you have the leftovers: guys like Salvador, for example, who don't even know what they're doing, and neither do we. I'm very happy to say that Christin Cook doesn't fall into any of these categories. In fact, her girl-fronted alterna-pop is some of the most intelligent music I've heard in a while, and that's a good thing considering the shoddy quality of Christian pop these days.

At age 20, Christin's song-writing is mature well-beyond her age. Her sophomore release, For the Love, tackles several relevant subjects, such as patience and relying on God's timing ("So Close to Far Away"), looking beyond trials and tribulations to find the positive things ("Keep Breathing"), and the problems with giving lip-service to the Lord ("Cause of Who You Are"). However, the real jewels of this record are the tracks most listeners will be able to relate to, beginning with "I Need Your Love." This opener leads-off with some gripping guitar distortion and spices things up further with a few bass riffs. The bridge carries the song into rock territory as the distortion morphs into screeching, and Cook's stellar voice rounds out the cut perfectly as she sings about how she only wants to be loved for who she is. As a vocalist, Christin sounds similar to Kendall Payne in style, but edgier and more enthusiastic. She continues her plea for respect in "Silly Things" as she whimsically discusses the lengths girls will go to impress guys, admitting they'll even going as far as changing themselves. Christin isn't too keen on this ("Said you like deep thoughts, so I thought of a few / Here's one: I'm tired of changing myself for you") and says so in true rock-pop fashion ("Just love me, you silly thing") as the electric guitar glazes the background. This is actually the central theme of For the Love: being able to respect and love a person not because of who you want them to be, but because of the way God made them.

Cook reveals her sentimental side through thought-provoking ballads like "Beyond Me." The first slow song on the album, Christin's serene vocals float on a stream of peaceful acoustic accompaniment and soar to new heights as she "embraces the change." Her writing on this tune specifically discusses circumstances beyond her control that she unashamedly gives up to God, allowing Him to work them for the best. This track, along with "If I Had the Time," demonstrates Christin's immense talent as a singer/songwriter. In fact, "If I Had the Time," a personal favourite, features darker and nearly flawless instrumentation during the main verses and mellows out during the chorus when Cook's vocal chords illuminate. Heavier emphasis on the bass and percussion also make this song great, but its truly amazing quality is towards the end when Christin's voice crescendos along with the instruments. The effect is a stirring conclusion that captivates your spirit and begs listeners to sing along. Closing For the Love is a simple "Thank You" to God for everything He's done in Cook's life and throughout her ministry. At first she admits she was stubborn due to her high expectations, and thanking God in spite of it all was the hardest thing she could do. Yet now "the pieces fit" and she proudly states, "I walk less blindly than before." The Egyptian-like strings of the sitar compliment this closing piece nicely.

And finally, lest you think Christin Cook depends on her vocal talents alone, let it be known that she also plays guitar, and most of the acoustic guitar heard on For the Love was her own. Furthermore, producer Paul Moak doubles as a one-man band and plays everything from the electric guitar to the accordion to other weird things (resoguitar? pedalsteel?). Both Cook and Moak also contributed their own BGV's to the disc. So there. In other words, For the Love is quite a musical accomplishment for this young diva. As far as Christian pop goes, it's overly enjoyable and, in actuality, very artistic. Rebecca St. James? Nah. No one listens to techno anymore. Kendall Payne? Boring and devoid of emotion. Jump5? Don't even ask. No, Christin Cook is the name to remember, as you might see her on a major record label in the near future.
- Rick Foux
August 2002
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