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TRANSPARENT (2000)
Transparent - Click to view!Transparency speaks of a see-through quality, one where shades can be pulled up and lines drawn to reveal something unobserved. Being transparent in a world that screams for a cover of make-up and fashionable comebacks proves to be harder the longer the clock ticks. Siblings Phillip and Natalie LaRue tackle the idea of transparency—a theme not often covered, even in Christian circles—on their new album, Transparent.

How well they convey this distinct way of seeing remains for the listener to determine. "Jaded" describes the moment of falling out of love. Exposing what one dislikes about one's lover requires extreme honesty and vulnerability. "Brianna's Song" talks about the defenselessness of sister Brianna, who is mentally challenged and confined to a wheelchair. Because of her difficulties, she doesn't conceal her true feelings behind a mask of pretension; she must be honest 100% of the time. This honesty, in turn, brings a reality to life. The desire to know God like He knows us is expressed within "Near To Me." Being open with the Creator proves to be difficult when we choose to walk in human pride and self-sufficiency. It can be much easier to remain opaque.

Yes, the theme is evident—perhaps too much so. The lyrical composition remains very elemental and too obvious. I suppose it's due to the age of the writers and of the intended audience. These are sentences like, "I have fallen for you / and you have fallen for me" ("Fallen For You"), "Well this I feel and this I know / That there's a God who made us all" ("Fly"), and "I was just thinking about how time flies" ("One White Tulip"). If only they could have explored what it means to fall in love and watch time fly—what the experience smells like, what colors exist, and what the shapes and dimensions do to one's outlook on life. If only they could have gone beyond the Sunday school lesson of the Creator God and delved into deeper means of expression.

I hold such high reservations against this album because the musical arrangements shatter me. I'm drawn to these vocals that use a distinct sense of vibrato—almost like a young set of Kevin Max prodigies. Songs like "Theory of Flight" and "Seem to Be" scream catchy pop/rock with amazingly strong guitars. The melodies chase me down and force me to remain glued to the CD player. And the piano found in "Brianna's Song" sends chills every time, almost causing tears. Phillip and Natalie craft simple yet amazingly attractive melodies and harmonies. If this brother and sister were to sit with a poet or storywriter, they could take this world of tinker toys and craft log cabins, mansions by the lake, and Lady of Shallot castles. Just a few twists and turns to the current lyrics would make this recording explode with crystalline light. Then even more transparency could be seen from the point of view of these young singers.
- Hollie Stewart
January 2005
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