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Third Day
Steven Curtis Chapman
Big Dismal
Lauryn Hill
Kirk Franklin
Yolanda Adams
BeBe Winans
Angie Stone
Scott Stapp
Mark Hoppus
Brad Paisley
Sara Evans
Charlotte Church
Dan Lavery

The Passion of the Christ: Songs - Click to view! THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: SONGS (2004)
While the words "music inspired by the movie" are fairly commonplace in the world of soundtrack releases, many listeners rightly wonder just what the phrase means. In the case of the Passion of the Christ Songs CD, a group of artists from both the Christian and mainstream camps were invited to screen Mel Gibson's highly successful film of the same name and then compose songs based on their experience.

Although the Songs project marks the inaugural outing from the new Wind-Up Records imprint, Lost Keyword Records, those expecting a Christian version of the Daredevil or Punisher soundtracks are likely to be surprised. Shying away from the customary parade of post-grunge and nu-metal artists that populate the Wind-Up compilations, Songs reflects the Lost Keyword label's fondness for what might be considered a kinder, gentler sort of musical fare.

Dan Lavery's "To Give Love" is a shimmering combination of modern worship and melodic pop/rock. Bebe Winans and Angie Stone offer a similarly impressive fusion of gospel and jazz on the smoldering "Miracle of Love." The prominent percussion and austere production sense of Lauryn Hill's "The Passion" would have fit nicely on any of the City on a Hill records. And Brad Paisley and Sara Evans instill "New Again" with the sort of understated grandness that so many of their peers in the contemporary country genre aim for but rarely hit.

Interestingly, several of the performers on the album tackle styles of music outside of their usual domain. While groups like The Rembrandts and Smalltown Poets probably aren't shaking in their boots at hearing Scott Stapp's "Relearn Love," the former Creed front man demonstrates a promising pop aptitude on his first solo outing. "Finding My Own Way" shows classical recording artist Charlotte Church enrolling in the Jessica Simpson/Stacie Orrico school of teen pop and not only avoiding academic probation, but actually making the honor roll. In the same way, "Rainy Day" finds the lads of the Floridian post-grunge quartet Big Dismal surveying a welcoming pop-inclined landscape filled with buoyant melody lines, soaring harmonies and sweeping orchestral flourishes.

The Third Day/Steven Curtis Chapman/Mercy Me collaboration "I See Love," which is reminiscent of Larry Norman's "Outlaw" with its theme of Jesus as teacher, victim and martyr, comes across as somewhat musically listless. MxPx's "The Empire" and POD's "Truly Amazing" feel similarly restrained. That said, the album's stronger material outweighs its occasional weak spots. And while its eclectic lineup makes for a slightly less coherent effort than the aforementioned Wind-Up soundtracks, its diverse stylistic palette renders it a more interesting listen. Though hardly a landmark release, Passion of the Christ Songs is nonetheless a reasonably solid and engaging collection of tracks that should appeal to fans of the groups represented.
- Bert Gangl
October 2004

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