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Various Artists “The Shack: Music From and Inspired By the Original Motion Picture” Album Review

The Shack

Prime Cuts:  Keep Your Eyes on Me (Tim McGraw & Faith Hill), Phone Call to God (Brett Elderidge), When I Pray for You (Dan+ Shay)

Overall Score: 3.5/5 

Movie soundtracks are a tricky affair.  Some soundtracks chronicle their songs so tightly around the film's story line that they give expressions to the various turning points of the narrative's plotline.  Then there are other soundtracks where the songs are only loosely based on the movie's storyline. "The Shack" falls into the latter category.  You can't really discern much of the movie's story just by listening to these 14 cuts.  Rather, these songs roughly expound on the general themes of the movie: hearing from God, faith in the midst of trials, talking to God, the message of God's love, and so forth. 

Before we offer our opinions on the soundtrack, a word first about the movie.  "The Shack" is based on the New York Times best-selling novel. The story takes us on a father's uplifting spiritual journey. After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack journeys to the shack and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.

The soundtrack takes the broad themes of the story and set them to music.  Since the set is set in the country and it also stars Tim McGraw, half of the soundtrack is performed by country artists.  Frankly, it's the songs done by the country artists that are the better half.  Tim McGraw & Faith Hill heads up the right way with their newly recorded power ballad "Keep Your Eyes on Me."  With soaring strings, a larger-than-life chorus, and Faith Hill's melisma on top display, 'Keep Your Eyes on Me" is what you would expect from these two superstars and more. 

Of note also are Brett Eldredge's creatively structured story song "Phone Call to God," Dan + Shay's ultra-catchy "When I Pray for You," and Dierks Bentley's bluegrass-tingled "Days of Darkness."  On the other hand, thumbs are down when it comes to Lady Antebellum's highly messy and tuneless "Lay Our Flowers Down." The song is supposed to invoke strong emotions of grief and sadness, but the obstructive backings and the wont of a melody make the song's aims impossible. 

The other half of the record come from today's Christian music acts.  Let's start with the paltry ones first:  Hillsong UNITED offers a dreary version of the melodically nebulous "Heaven Knows."  They have indeed come a long way from those congregationally focused anthems of yesteryears such as "Oceans" or "The Desert Song."  More embarrassing moments come with Francesca Battistelli's torturously tedious "Where Were You."  She tries to hold the notes so long that she comes across as whinning. 

Much better are Lecrae and Breyan Issac's "River of Jordan" where they straddle aright both hip hop beats and traditional Gospel.  Skillet's "Stars" is spot on in giving us the baseline synopsis of the movie captured succinctly within the confines of the song.  

 

 

Tags : the shack the shack soundtrack Tim McGraw Hillsong United Faith Hill dan + shay Brett Eldredge lady antebellum Francesca Battistelli Hillsong United Lecrae dierks bentley Skillet Various Artists “The Shack: Music From and Inspired By the Original Motion Picture” Album Review

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