Prime Cuts: Right Where I Belong, Be Still, Song of Solomon
Last year, two out of three members of Christian music trio Selah branched out to record their own solo projects. Amy Perry took on the modern worship route, while Allan Hall graced us with a rootsy country-tingled solo effort. Todd Smith was the only of the threesome who remain in the background. A year or so later, Smith releases his own solo disc following the footsteps of his fellow bandmates. Rather than carbon copying either of his team members, Smith's "There's a Light" is more a middle of the road pop project. Though the music core of the record is essentially Christian pop not dissimilar to many of their Selah projects, Smith is not afraid to teeter into a few folk, bluegrass and country detours. Ed Cash who has handled the production chores for Chris Tomlin, Dave Barnes and Bethany Dillon is to be congratulated in getting these variegated hues worked into the album's sonic tapestry.
Todd Smith is a singer/songwriter and founding member of Selah, one of Christian music's most beloved groups. Their nearly two-decade career boasts total sales surpassing 4 million album and single units combined; eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards; and eight #1 singles. Selah's hits include such signature songs as "You Raise Me Up," "Wonderful, Merciful Savior" and "Press On." However, despite Selah's copious releases, "There's a Light" is only Smith's sophomore release. Twelve years have passed since Smith released his solo debut "Alive" in 2004.
The set opens with the album's lead single and title cut "There's a Light." Taking a recess from the standard state of the art pop that we have grown so accustomed on Christian radio, "There's a Light" features crunchy guitars and a swirling banjo, a track that would definitely make fans of Keith Urban proud. Despite being written by Smith's dad who is battling cancer, "Jesus Is" returns back to clichéd Christian pop terrain with recycled words and riffs to boot. Much better is the piano ballad "Song of Solomon," a thoughtfully poetic love song directed to Jesus which also features Smith at his soaring best. Another ballad of noteworthy mention is "Be Still." With an inviting affinity, "Be Still" could also serve as a congregational worship piece.
With Selah's penchant for Getty-like hymns, "Right Where I Belong" is one such gorgeous entry. Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb does add her harmony but she's barely noticeable. Most interesting and perhaps the most adventurous track on the album is "Dmitri's Song (Jesus Is Alive)." Donned with a bluegrassy sonic outfit, "Dmitri's Song," penned by Smith and Ed Cash, recounts the true story of a Russian pastor imprisoned for his faith for 17 years. Smith is slated to perform the song during a special segment following the one-night showing of THE INSANITY OF GOD with DAVID PLATT August 30 in more than 500 theatres around the country.
"Calling All Fathers," a wake-up call to all dads to bring God into the home, has gone viral last Father's Day. Despite the song's sentiments and its impact, somehow the melody just doesn't catch on. The same can be said about "Revive Us." Though not perfect, "There's a Light" is a remarkable step of faith for Smith. Rather than just regurgitating what he does for Selah, this solo set is marked with creativity, ingenuity, diversity, and most importantly, faith.