Sixpence None the Richer
Burlap to Cashmere
Point of Grace
Irish Film Orchestra
STREAMS: A SOUNDTRACK OF HOPE (1999)
For the times in life when you'd rather cry than sing comes Streams: A Soundtrack of Hope, a well-crafted project whose beauty overflows with settle passion and drama. It's different from other attempts at compilations, first because of it's diverse artist list and second with it's stated purpose of examining real, deep issues, not shying from sounding broken or confused. Cindy Morgan's ballad "Job" relates to the Old Testament figure, hearing only the angry voice of the Lord, yet still releasing life in all it's complexity to Him. Streams' first of three novel pairings finds Máire Brennan (of Celtic group Clannad) and Michael McDonald (of the Doobie Brothers) in a duet of "Don't Give Up," a fair production whose acclaimed duo alone could feasibly break this cut into mainstream A/C. Sixpence None the Richer lighten the tone considerably, their tender pop orchestrated flawlessly with the spirit of Streams in "Breathe," a cut savoring divine peace. The Michael W. Smith-penned "Sanctuary" excels vocally as Chris Rodriguez's perfect delivery emphasizes the hope of redemption. Michelle Tumes' encouragement to "Hold On" falls short of Streams' depth. The strong a cappella energy of 4Him is coupled with Jon Anderson (of Yes) when Christ is treasured as "The Only Thing I Need," and the only constant in a raging sea of fear and emotion. With sonic refreshment, British phenomena delirious? remix their Cutting Edge highlight "Find Me in the River," the vivid imagery and poetic desperation given all the more life with Amy Grant's alto harmony. At once stunning and disarming, Jaci Velasquez relates "I Will Rest in You," a track crying to "tell me You love me for the fool I am." Burlap to Cashmere's uniqueness in both sound (guitar-driven, Spanish-inflected acoustic) and lyric ("This tent not mine ~ Him in control") lend a dynamic to "From Above" - partly due to the presence of all seven b2c members. The only loser of the entire 72 and a half minutes is Point of Grace with their pop ditty "Forever On and On." So what's all the strings on Streams I keep referring to? The Irish Film Orchestra, in addition to backing over half the project, close it with 1,250 seconds of soaring, compassionate, moving classical music. Added bonus: in my mind, the photography wins Packaging of the Year hands down, alternating touching moods of people in disappointment, fear and pain with visuals of waters that bring healing to life and it's unpredictability. Though siphoning off all currents of rock and alternative sound, Streams is the clearest reflection of honesty, restoration and hope that pop music has seen in a long while.
- Josh M. Shepherd
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