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[ i 2 eye ]


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i 2 EYE (1988)
i 2 Eye - Click to view!Grooving with the keyboard sound and nominal production common of Christian albums in the eighties, i 2 (Eye) utilizes Smith's dynamic songwriting in its focus of relating to God and each other. The opener reaches out to God's guiding "Hand of Providence" in a harmonica-laden mix that traces "thoughts of love and war" to Christ, our best defense. A snare drum/bass intro. into one of Michael's greatest lyrics ever. Drawing on Christ's dare to challenge the religion of superiors, "Secret Ambition" hits hard and strong that Jesus' claim to fame was to give His life away; its synth-driven musical backdrop is bright and rhythmic, Smitty's delivery never better. If only the rest of the album were as good. Like-minded in message and music, tracks 3, 4 and 6 vary slightly in similar encouragements to live different than the culture: the first looks back on a life headed for nowhere, and now "On the Other Side"; with Michael Sweet and Stryper's Oz Fox on backing vocals, the following song offer that "All You're Missing is a Heartache" in a world that courts their pride and kisses the dark; "Live and Learn" grapples with a stubborn will and engaging temptation in going beyond shallow desire for God. While the trio of cuts is to-the-point with words, all of the melodies lack strength, and blend together over time because of similarity. Tender and pointedly evangelistic, "I Miss the Way" appeals to a prodigal to make "His heart the soul of your life." Clichè-ish "I Hear Leesha" falls into the all-too-typical "weather report" songwriting rut, talking of rain falling into every life. A prime example of power pop that characterized a long-passed decade, "Help You Find Your Way" encourages open sharing in friendships through an addicting keys-guitar progression. "Ashton" salutes the fiction small town of Frank Peretti's spiritual drama This Present Darkness. Walking a fine line between pop and worship, "The Throne" sings with praise to God alone, while its kids choir chanting awkwardly closes the song. Kind of "Friends" remake (the song, not the show), the closer asks to 'Pray for Me" as it realizes that the hardest part of love is letting go. Ever employing the Elton John approach of combining feeling and friendship, it is easy to see i 2 (Eye) with this talented songwriter on one of his many essential song collections.
- Josh M. Shepherd
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