Prime Cuts: Circle of Friends, How You Live (Turn Up the Music), King of the World
Overall Grade: 5/5
How times have changed. Once upon a time when Point of Grace was Word Records' gold card, they flew the quartet on the Dallas Mavericks' DC-9 jet to five different cities in one day just to promote their album. At that time, Point of Grace was everywhere, they were making appearances at every major Christian festivals and they were booked to tour with some of CCM's biggest names, including Michael W. Smith, FFH, Jaci Velasquez and 4Him. Every record the girls released was heavily promoted. According to the omniscient Wikipedia, the girls had 4 #1 albums and a whopping 27 #1 hits! Fast forward to 2017, "Our Collections," their first release in two years, was released without a whimper. There was no press release circulated; no review copies were serviced; there was not a single blurb mentioned on Point of Grace's website; there was virtually not even a tweet that hinted at the album's advent. In this regard, Word is to be censored for treating one of their former biggest acts with such tepidity.
"Our Recollections: Limited Edition 25th Anniversary Collection" is a double disc collection that garners 30 of the ladies' songs together. But again the album's titular shows the sloppiness on Word's part. The album cover says that this set marks the 25th anniversary of Point of Grace starting from 1991. If it's their 25th anniversary, simple arithmetic would reveal that this album ought to come out last year. Truthfully, this album was destined to be released in 2016, but through Word's negligence, the album never saw the light of day until now. Despite having 30 songs spreading over 2 CDs, there are no rarities, no new songs, and no remixes. This further discounts Word's treatment of the ladies. However, one redeeming point is that, unlike 2003's "24," this collection doesn't just include their hits, album cuts have also been included too.
The song lists of both CDs are chronically arranged, starting from Point of Grace's self-titled debut record in 1993 all the way up to 2015's "Directions Home." Listening to these tracks help us to appreciate the evolution of their songs right from album #1 until their latest album #10. In their earlier days, Point of Grace was riding on the cusp of the explosion of female pop bands such as Expose, Wilson Phillips, TLC and En Vogue of the early 90s. They were then marketed as the Christian counterpart of these bands. Naturally, their songs emulated the pop sheen and the crisp dance beats of the time. Many of which, such as "I'll Be Believing,' "One More Broken Heart" and "I Have No Doubt," contain lyrics bright as a light bulb and melodies that would make Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston proud.
Amazingly, the girls were able to hold on to the rails of success over the turn of Millennium. And this is perhaps the most fruitful time of their careers as the lyrics of their songs mature with deeper nuances and poetry. On tracks like "Waiting in the Wing," "Heal the Wound," and the underrated "Friend of the Wounded Heart," they were able to engage deeper issues like brokenness with greater authenticity. As the years progress, their songs have become more organic: relying less on synth and drum machines, they have opted for more rustic instrumentations, including the use of mandolins and fiddles. Thus, songs such as "How You Live (Turn the Music Up) and "The Climb," are some of their most intimate recordings to date.
Let's hope this collection is not just a mere contractual release from Word Records. One certainly hopes Point of Grace would venture into the future with the same fervor that was ingrained in them in the 90s.