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THIS IS YOUR TIME (1999)
This is Your Time - Click to view!Inspired by the tragedy of the Columbine High School shooting and the memory of Cassie Bernall, Christian pop recording artist Michael W. Smith sat down with other major names in the Christian music industry and began writing songs. His efforts resulted in this newest project, This Is Your Time. Working with artists such as Cindy Morgan, Wes King, Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay), Ginny Owens, and Chris Rice, this latest album contains some of Smith's best work yet. Other Christian artists singing back-up vocals include John Elefante, Angela Cruz, Natalie Grant, Nik Kershaw, Darwin Hobbs, and Chris Rodriguez. The album is chock full of Smitty's own early 90s style, with a few noticeable differences. One such difference is that one of Michael's co-writers is his own wife, Deborah D. Smith, and two of the tracks on the CD, "Hey You, It's Me" and "I'm Gone" are written especially for her. These fill the love song category on the project, but differ from previous works of Smith in the fact that both are rhythmic, upbeat, pop tunes. Smith also wrote two songs his daughters, Anna and Whitney, who join their dad singing background vocals for the album's title cut. The songs, "She Walks With Me" and the appropriately titled "Anna", deal with the mixed feelings Smith has watching his children grow up: love, sadness, and joy. The opening and closing tracks are instrumentals; "Rince De (God's Dance)" is a lively tune showered with flutes, bagpipes, and a wide assortment of other such wind instruments, while the reprise of "This Is Your Time" showcases Michael's incredible talents as a pianist. "Worth It All" is another high octane pop cut co-written by Smitty's wife that says following God's call, even if it means giving up everything, is worth the price. Two of the slower, more moving tunes on the CD are "I Will Be Your Friend", reminiscent of MWS's "Friends", and "This Is Your Time", the title cut of the album and also the first radio single. Both songs were inspired by the students of Columbine High School and are positive, uplifting, and encouraging. They are sure to become popular songs for high school graduations in the upcoming year. Meanwhile, "I Will Carry You" is a song about standing in the gap for others and sounds like a play off of Kirk Franklin's "Lean On Me." Co-written with Dan Haseltine, "Reach Out to Me" is about the increasing intensity of the spiritual battle between good and evil and is a desperate plea to God to hold on to us. Dan's writing style is apparent throughout the song lyrics, "Another scar from fighting the truth now / has left me like a stranger to my need now / a masquerade, a game to figure out now / a cruel charade I cannot scream aloud." Perhaps a song that belongs in its own musical category is "I Still Have the Dream", which is a based on Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" The final vocal track on This Is Your Time is entitled "Everybody Free", and it captures the joy of receiving Christ and finding someone "who can free your soul and love you too."

This Is Your Time is a brilliant listening experience, and it's more than just another bunch of pre-fabricated Christian songs. It's about life itself: the good times, the hard times, happiness, loneliness, trials and tribulations, hope and inspiration; it portrays all of these encounters. If there's one album to close the millennium with, this is it. And it seems there's more truth in the title than realized. Not only is this our time, but Smitty's as well.

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