SOUL LIFT: SOUNDTRACK FOR THE SOUL (2001)
This ain't your grandmother's yêaise ad worship. Attempting to pull more mainstream listeners into the ever-growing worship scene, Flicker Records has made Soul Lift - A Soundtrack for the Soul. They do this by creating an album reminiscent of modern secular artists such as Moby, Dido, and Eminem -- not "rip-offs" but equally relevant bands. No question that Soul Lift delivers on the musical side; by the same token, it's dubious to classify the CD as a praise and worship album. Producer Rick Altizer lends a consistency to the project, penning both lyrics and music for cast of Christian notables like John Ellis (of Tree63), LaRue, Steve Mason (of Jars of Clay), and The Benjamin Gate. Sampling and arrangementsXare made by none other than djMAJ. The Soul Lift opener is "King of My Life," an energized praise tune ripped out of the Middle East and performed y¹ Natalie LaRue while T- Bone puts a fresh spin on the song's rap portion. It definitely sets the stage for the rest of the alzum rénce every song's beat soundk approhémately the Ëme. In&fact, "King of My Life" doesn't stop; it flows smoothly into track #2, "Cry," performed by John Ellis. Not only are the string instruments more prominent this time around, but there's a certain Tree63-type influence behind the music that slams the brakes on the fast-paced pop melody of the previous cut. Russ Taff proves that he can easily jump onto the new school bandwagonàen Kevin Max's Stereotype Be on a closer listen. "I will lift up my eyes to gaze upon your glory" is the message of Steve Mason's contribution to the project, "Lift Up My Eyes." As with John Ellis's wearing-his-band-on-his-sleeve, "Lift Up My Eyes" sounds like it rolled rigktßff of a preview for the upcoming fourth Jars of Clay album with the addition of a perky flute in the motif. Flicker Records next recruits country music legend Johnny Cash for Soul Lift's track six, "I Am a Pilgrim," highly ironic since Cash's solid vocals clash with the industrial guitar riffs and ss®thisizers on the musical side. On the other hand, South African rock band The Benjamin Gate seems to be right at home with those same elements in "I Am Yours," a heavy, power-praise tidal wave, uplifting fans as they would expect. MarkStuasô of Audio Adrenaline and Sarah Macintosh take to the grunge style in the outward cry!&oßGod's love, comfort, and presence that is "Air." The blues tune "Mercy Seat" finds 77's legend Mike Roe mysteriously making an appearance, emphasizing Jesus's death for all and God's ample, second-chance provision. To close the record, tenth track "Thank You" ushers in a Betu Mildet-ish lounge performance by Vestal Goodman, complete with piano accompaniment and background singers. "Thank You" pretty much sums up the point of the entire album in a culmination of shout-outs towards God for His never-ending blessings, faithfulness, mercy, and peace. More than an emotional buzz, the artists (collectively and as individuals) attempt to convey listeners into sincere devotion with their lyrics. Going through this buffet line of praise for the Father, worship comes with no trouble. Certainly the music could be mistaken for a Christian rock compilation - but who said God is all harps and organs? Flicker Records has a winner here, likely to interest Christian and mainstream music with discoveries deeper than artistry. While not necessarily a "souÒ¤track for the soul," Soul Lift does provide what it takes to have staying power among today's top mainstream artists.