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OPEN WIDE THIS WINDOW (2003)
Open Wide This Window - Click to view!It's not the name of a group that normally attracts me to an album. I've been taught to "never judge a book by its cover," yet the name GlassByrd attracted me more so than any possible sound clip. It spoke to me first of frailty, then of a boldness to continue flight in the midst of that frailty. Who would have thought I conceptualized the theme of the CD based on this one word?

Open Wide This Window, crafted by Marc Byrd and Christine Glass, sits differently in the series of worship projects flooding the Christian community. It's almost as if, through listening to the album, we approach the prayer closet of this husband and wife and press our ears against the thin door. The songs ring like King David's cries for deliverance in the Psalms; they come from moments of pain, not from plush offices of musical success.

Byrd penned many of the songs while he was homeless, lending a vagrant theme to the album. One can read the hardship in lines like, "I've journeyed far / I've slept out in desert with the stars / I've felt the mystery" ("Mercy"). Byrd's lyrics reflect reality; they come from a time when his band Common Children lacked adequate finances to even afford a motel room. One night a man graciously shared his campsite with the band, so they spent the evening eating beef jerky and sleeping by the fire. Glass has had her own struggles with failing record labels and insufficient income. But like her husband, she found solace and comfort in times of worship. In "Jesus You Are Beautiful" she writes, "When I'm alone I sing a sweet love song from the wilderness / Though I can't see Your face I believe You are listening." Their lyrics aren't sugarcoated with the Christian cop-out that says, "My life is a bed of roses." The words raise issues of trial and tribulationreal issues that Jesus said would be a part of our walk with Him.

Open Wide this Window is reminiscent of the City on a Hill albums, but it reaches deeper in both musical and lyrical content. Byrd's gritty rock vocals combined with Glass's aria voicings establish an interesting counter-balance. The tracks where Glass sings lead serve as delicate lullabies, but I found I had to be in the lullaby mood to fully enjoy them. Byrd's voice drew me in more quickly, and I enjoyed the songs where Byrd takes the lead and Glass dances in harmonies behind him. I heard the best vocal balance in "Peace to you," a track similar to Rich Mullins' song "Peace" from A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band. "Peace To You" culminates in a vocal mantra reminding me of Gregorian chant. The voices fade out to the end, reflecting the serenity that the song addresses.

My favorite track is "Tonight (I Want To Live in Your World)." Byrd sings this love song to his wife, and it's upbeat acoustic and electric guitar work pulls me from the lullaby lull. He sings about "the fear and freedom of the fall" found in loving someone, in giving yourself away for the other person. This song saved the album from the City on a Hill deluge.

I admit that I cringed when "God of Wonders" started playing. I thought, "Oh wonderful, they have to cover the song too." That was before reading how Byrd wrote the song while he wandered the streets and found tremendous hope in the worship. So it's not his fault that I skip this song on my player. It makes me wish the song debuted on this CD rather than on the first City on a Hill, especially since Byrd and Glass do little to add new life to the too-familiar song.

Open Wide This Window is a relaxing record full of peace. Many will find hope in this project while walking through their valleys. It's a recording that urges the listener to keep flying no matter how fragile they have become.
- Hollie Stewart
April 2004
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