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E-Praise - Click to view! E-PRAISE (2002)
With everyone and their grandmother doing worship projects these days, there has been increasing cynicism as each new album is released. Yet there is a desire within the Christian community to make worship relevant and accessible to many different age groups and many different musical preferences. Enter Brandon Ebel and the BEC team who came up with the concept of E-Praise - worship music created for those who are new fans of electronic music. For this project, Ebel brought in some of Europe's finest - producer Erik Augustsson of Ultrabeat fame and vocalist Hannah Westin from the Swedish group New Born Soul. The two collaborated on 11 popular worship songs, forming the disc E-Praise. Enter the cynicism. Would this CD bring musical innovation and a solid vibe similar to the progressive E-music out there, or would it just be recycled Nitro Praise? Unfortunately, for BEC and their partners from Sweden, the answer is: a little bit of both.

The disc opens with three less than desirable numbers, "Open the Eyes of My Heart," "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" and "God of Wonders." "Open the Eyes" has a very rushed feel to it while cranking out a vibe very similar to the early UK/Nitro Praise material. There seems to be little musical diversity with layered keyboards and a stripped-down drum loop that comes off as lame instead of laid back. A similar sound haunts the second track "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble." The only difference between the two songs is Augustsson's voice flowing smoothly over the chorus with nice harmonies by Westin. Finally "God of Wonders" has a jazzed up ABBA vibe mixed with old school Ace of Base and less than stellar female vocals. An unfortunate three-play to begin the disc.

Augustsson suddenly gets creative with his drum beats and adds a string sample to "Everything That Has Breath." This is a very groovy tune that will spice up the youth group dance floor. The key here is Augustsson's layered keyboard sounds that flow much better than the previous three songs. The solid tunes continue with "Shout to the Lord." While the cheesy UK dance vibe continues, Westin's vocal variation over the verses adds a unique spin to the popular Hillsongs number. Without question, the best track on the album is the Matt Redman song "Heart of Worship." Augustsson gets very mellow as he sings over a light keyboard and an off-time drum beat. It's always nice to hear something different in worship music and Augustsson hits the nail on the head with this song.

The rest of the disc is like flipping a switch. E-Praise settles back into the typical, uninventive dance groove with "I Love You Lord" and then pushes the limits of dance and worship music with "Jesus, Names Above All Names." At its best, E-Praise takes its time, keeping the vocals simple while getting playful with various keyboard sounds. At its worst, it is recycled material with a rushed feel that pushes the annoying button. In the end, BEC could have made this an EP and saved us a few annoying tracks. Nice try, but I'll stick with my old World Wide Message Tribe album.
- Jon Corbin
December 2002

The label responsible for bringing us this project has a decent ste, although it seems to be mostly devoid of any info on this album.

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