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WASH OVER ME (2002)
Wash Over Me - Click to view!The first thing that strikes me about Jami Smith is her low, gravelly voice, similar in sound and style to Rita Springer. Like Springer, when Smith lets go on the choruses found in Wash Over Me, her passion for worshipping God shines brilliant. She encapsulates a refreshing honesty in her music. Some criticize that she sings too low for a woman, but I adore the gritty expressions of praise in songs like "Only You Satisfy." Her vocals are scratchy yet beautiful when she cries out, "Open up my heart, Jesus / Open up my mind, Jesus / Open up my life, Jesus / For only You satisfy." Wash Over Me has the soothing calm of a slow brook, bubbling simple yet true to the nature of worship.

I could discuss the beauty of each song, of each river swell, but I'll focus primarily on two favorites. "You Prepare a Table" soothes me thematically and musically. Smith takes various Psalms and rearranges them into a melodic hymn of praise. She sings, "You prepare a table for me / And bless me in the presence of my enemies / You fill me till my cup overflows / You restore my soul." Many of the songs, to my delight, incorporate scripture and scriptural truth, like "Come Ye Sinners," "Come Unto Me," "Beautiful Lovely Jesus," and "Find a World." I love being able to read a passage from the Bible and realize I already know it from a lyric in a song.

The strongest cut of the CD is the title track. Here Smith is the most honest, the guitars are the most pleasant, and the worship leader within her is the most apparent. This studio recording actually feels live; the background singers remain steady, allowing Smith to break into spontaneous praise. While the lyrics remain simple, the simplicity brings a healing quality to them: "Rain down Your favor on us / Lavish Your love upon us / Pour out your presence on us / Let me taste Your mercy in the rain / Wash over me / Wash over me." This is a perfect song for congregational worship. Yet "Wash Over Me"—and this entire album—would have been even stronger if it had been recorded live. Then we could have heard an audience sing along with Smith rather than trained and almost-dry BGVs. Wash Over Me is one of the most energetic studio worship projects I've heard—"energetic" in the sense that it doesn't feel pre-programmed. I can only imagine a night of live music with this musician.

This twelve-song album blends together so well that you can walk away, return ten minutes later, and think you're still on the same song. I tend to enjoy worship albums reflecting this quality, but if you grow bored with such consistency, this album is not for you. However, if you need a new worship soundtrack for your times with God, Wash Over Me is ideal, and Jami Smith's voice and heart will work their way into your devotions with simplistic ease, like water.
- Hollie Stewart
August 2004
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