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Nichole Nordeman
[ this mystery ]

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THIS MYSTERY (2000)
This Mystery - Click to view! In our day, artistry has become blurred because of an entertainment industry which demands that artists make money fast. Those who fail this test are tossed into the trash bin, an unpleasant picture for young hopefuls. This results in an enormous group of musicians churning out music that fits with the chart-topping trends: popular today, forgotten tomorrow. And once they are gone, their only legacy is that they "made it" in the music biz; soon, however, even that is forgotten as music listeners go from one craze to another.

Enter Nichole Nordeman. New on the scene in 1998 with her Wide Eyed debut, she defied the status quo by asking questions that discomforted listeners; even shocking them at times with lines such as, "I've lied if I've denied the common ground I've shared with him" (speaking of Thomas the disciple) and "Why does it keep getting harder to say thanks?" Nichole was not rebelling against God and His plan, but simply voicing those nagging questions that bother every person at some point in their life, a bold step that most of us are too feeble to take.

On her most recent album, This Mystery, Nichole continues the journey which began on Wide Eyed. Time has left its mark on her as her questions are more mature, advanced, and balanced. The album's title track is a fine example of this growth: "Do You wish, do You want us to breathe again? / Do You cry, do You hope for all things made new? / Try and try to invoke us to live in You / That we might be the hands and feet of this mystery." "Tremble" is another song that throws out an uncomfortable query: has modern worship lost the reverence for God in its emphasis on informality? While her previous songs grappled with the validity of her faith, Nichole now struggles to live out those beliefs.

Mark Hammond, the producer of Wide Eyed, returns with an equally excellent job of creating an atmosphere that complements Nichole's talents without losing the power of a single lyric. The songs "Small Enough" (a duet with Fernando Ortega) and "Every Season" are good specimens of production work that uses every tool available. A soothing vocal/strings background lays out the words to "Small Enough" ("Oh great God, be small enough to hear me now"), whereas "Every Season" relies on piano to bring out the message that God is working in us regardless of our feelings. As is evident in This Mystery's material, Mark Hammond's talent for arranging more than makes up for any weakness as a musician.

It's hard to find anything to criticize on this album; at least, anything worth mentioning. Yes, Nichole is still growing in her faith; yes, Nichole is still growing musically. But it is impossible not to admire her courage and hunger she has to know her Savior more. This Mystery will take you on a journey of faith and teach you about life and the questions life has to offer. It's a journey worth taking, even if you've already travelled down this avenue; you will find yourself learning more.
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