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Nichole Nordeman
[ woven & spun ]

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WOVEN & SPUN (2002)
Woven & Spun - Click to view! In the beginning, she was Wide Eyed: a child taking in the newness of wonder and majesty in God's kingdom. Inspiration came with each new breath as the world embraced the art that poured from her fingertips. Curiosity gradually overwhelmed her, and she began to question This Mystery that we call life. Some answers came with time; others didn't, but in spite of the inquiries, God began to speak to her in an entirely different way. Now, amidst the numerous Dove nominations, the Dove Award for Female Vocalist of 2001, and several chart-topping radio singles, Nichole Nordeman is happily Woven & Spun.

Her third offering finds Nordeman in a transitional period with her music and songwriting. The lyrics simpler, the notes brighter, she begins the disc with "Holy," quite possibly her best upbeat pop song yet and the recording's first radio single. Instead of interrogating the Almighty, this time Nichole questions herself in a powerful, vibrant manner while at the same time paying tribute to God, on her knees, singing "Holy." In fact, the other 11 tracks follow suit, focusing on the undeniable greatness of God rather than questioning His intentions. For instance, "Healed" yields an enticing piano melody complimenting Nordeman's softly-spoken vocals as she sings of Christ's sacrifice for all. The song itself is as patient as it is beautiful, and some of Nordeman's most original lyrics come to light: "We stutter and we stammer til you say us / a symphony of chaos til you play us / Phrases on the pages of unknown / til you read us into poetry and prose." Another of the record's highlights is "I Am," a look at God's work from an autobiographical point of view. There's wordplay on the piece's title; "I Am" could be used as one of the many names of God and also as the Lord's reply to our pleas, as Nordeman demonstrates in "Every Season" fashion. The quiet presence of the strings melds effortlessly with her own performance behind the keys, creating a scant yet impressive musical backdrop for this masterpiece.

The two songs bordering "I Am" dwell in the realm of obscurity. Starting out with a frisky drum loop and a few gentle strums of the electric guitar, "Never Loved You More" brings listeners that on-the-road feeling straight from her live shows. Her inventive lyrics describe how God's love for His children never changes, and therefore our love for the Father shouldn't either. On the flip side is the long-rumored cover of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," which could pass for a Nordeman original to anyone not familiar with the song's original version. Nichole invades this track with sharp, vocal wit, allowing her voice to penetrate the soul of even the most skeptic listener. As a whole, these two cuts prove Nichole's ability to excel outside of her element. Other bright performances on Woven & Spun include a track about counting our blessings ("Even Then"), the unfathomably beautiful a cappella "Doxology," and a summation of thankfulness, praise, and love toward the Father ("Gratitude").

Little can be said unfavorably towards Woven & Spun. The minutest of complaints, if any, would be that Charlie Peacock's production overshadows much of Nordeman's glorious piano flair. Ignore that slight error, however, and you have a very likely candidate for 2002's best Contemporary Christian album. Vocals and musicianship are top-notch, and Nichole obviously visited great lengths to create a record of this caliber. What more could you ask for? Woven & Spun is a spectacle of genuity more so than most worship albums I've heard and will no doubt lead you into an experience of thankfulness towards Christ.
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