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BECOMING (2003)
Becoming - Click to view!If it were possible to harness the magic of a lazy summer afternoon, Christine Dente would be an expert. Dente's solo Becoming is the audio equivalent of lying in a hammock, feeling the sun on your face and pondering life's mysteries in the suspended eternity of a moment. Although this summery solo effort represents Dente's first CD apart from Out of the Grey, longtime fans of the husband/wife duo might still detect the musical influence of Scott Dente, who served as the project's producer. However, the lyrics and ideas behind the music are pure Christine and strike out into new, uncharted territory. The progression of the songs in Becoming mirrors a journey through the stages of life, and though its message is universal, its themes of motherhood and femininity will resonate particularly well with other women.

The title track starts off the album with a piano-driven melody that explores the identity crisis of adolescence. Childhood imagery depicts a young girl struggling unsuccessfully to conform to society's concepts of beauty: "I tried the whimsical, gauzy pink dresses / That spin in the wind when you twirl / But somehow the princess gown / Never did fit this girl." A play on words in the last line is especially effective at driving home the song's message about the value of individuality through God's eyes: "I am becoming what I once was / The girl in the mirror of your love / I am becoming / Your love becomes me."

Dente experiments with different musical sounds in the next few tracks, narrating the early-life struggle to find purpose and stability. "Bigger Story" dips into a more radio-friendly brand of pop, and twangy guitar complements the lagging, country beat of "Gotta Go Through." The album transitions to a more relaxed, midlife tone with "Summer," blending expressive piano, subtle percussion and gentle acoustic guitar for an ode to motherhood. Its simple lyrics provide somewhat of a paradox ("How short the days are long / How fast the days of slow go away") that seems to exemplify the entire album, commenting not only on the fleeting nature of summer but on the brevity of life as a whole.

"Sure of All I Hope For" and "Echoes of Heaven" convey the serenity of middle age in similar soft pop styles, expressing appreciation for God's wonders as well wistful anticipation of the glory yet to come. This glory is expounded upon in "Goodbye," a beautiful song that strikes a strong concluding note for the CD with its uplifting reflection on death. Light, summery piano gives the music a weightless feel, leaving the listener ready to soar during the song's bridge: "I feel the lift, I sense the give it takes / To send me flying from this earthly place."

Every summer has its rainy days, and Becoming is no exception. Although not notably bad, "How Far, How Much" and "Sure of All I Hope For" are largely unremarkable and easy to skip over. Better qualified for the skip category is "The Only Think that Counts," a musically bland filler song whose reluctance to stray from its Scriptural base in Galatians results in boring, repetitive lyrics. Poor choruses plague some of the better tracks, as the slight musical variation between the choruses and short verses often leave you wondering where the chorus was. The depth of the lyrics usually compensates for any musical deficiency, however, giving the overall impression that Dente's chops as a musician don't quite rival her poetic talent.

Much like the journey through life that it describes, Becoming is far from perfect. But with its meditative lyrics and pleasant balance of piano and guitar, it's easy to overlook the album's faults. Slip Becoming into your CD player in July and enjoy the perfect soundtrack for a summer's day. Or give it a spin in a dreary January moment and recapture a ray of sunshine on demand.
- Becca Tuttle
November 2004
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