Prime Cuts: Agnus Dei, Friends, No More Crying
Overall Grade: 2/5
Can't believe Michael W. Smith is a G-Daddy! Not only is the three time Grammy-Award winner a grandfather, but he has 14 grandkids! With his dashing youthful good looks and never stepping back from the latest sounds (exemplified by his recent release "A Million Lights"), Smith actually is a sexagenarian. In an effort to impart faith into the burgeoning new generation of kids, Smith has set up Nurturing Steps where books and music will be released to facilitate this goal. Out of the press are the first children's book "Nighty Night and Good Night" and its ensuing soundtrack "Lullaby."
"Lullaby" is the third release by Smith this year and 2018 is only 4 months old! As the titular indicates, this is an audio bedtime drama for young children with the Nighty Night characters interacting with Smith throughout the record. The album itself contains 27 tracks. And the disc is grouped under two types of music.
First, there are tracks that record Smith's interaction with the Nighty Night characters in an effort to get them to go to bed interspersed with the instrumental and non-instrumental standard lullaby tunes (e.g, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"). Hence, the title of the album. One thing that doesn't work to the advantage of this album is the lack of a narrative plot. Kids aren't just really interested in sleeping for sleeping sake. One would have wished there was an interesting plot behind the songs; a narrative arch that is related to the Bible or/and the Christian faith.
Second, there are the Smith-original songs. Though on paper, this might look like a prodigious album of 27 songs. But there is a famine in the midst of such numerous listings of songs. In fact, there are only two newly written songs for this project and there are two re-makes of Smith's own signature tunes. Best of the quartet of songs is Smith's piano version of his hit "Friends." In 2003, Smith tried to resurrect this moving ode to friendship to messy results, but this time he almost nails it except that the song which clocks in at 2:25 minutes is far too short.
Worshipful and contemplative is Smith's take of his own "Agnus Dei." The two newly composed "No More Crying" and "Sleep Tight" are pretty in their melodies but lacking in terms of their lyrical contents. After a whole album's worth of trying to get the kids to sleep, do we seriously need two more new songs about the same subject again? Is there nothing else more substantial than sleep?
This album, in many ways, sounds like a rush work. There is not much spiritual truths that Smith is trying to impart throughout this record. Yes, there's the occasional nod to the Bible (e.g., "The Bible Song") but the main aim of the record is summed up in ts title; this is literally a lullaby album.