REVIEW: Gratitude (Eli)

Filed in ReviewsTags: Music

gratitude

Album Title: Gratitude - website
Album Artist: Eli
Release Date:2004, Independent (Cool Flame Shoes Music)

Gratitude marks the first new studio release for Eli since leaving Forefront records. Eli has chosen to go the route of the independent artist, and this release suffers none for that decision. Gratitude retains Eli's acoustic pop/coffeehouse sound, yet represents growth in sound, lyrics, and style. The album has no major deviations from previous releases, yet is different enough not to sound "cookie-cutter".

Eli's songwriting has always been notable for his openness, honesty, and lack of inhibition from discussing real issues with which he has struggled. The songwriting on Gratitude retains this honesty, the lyrics have evolved much as has the life of the songwriter. Eli's music still appeals to the everyday struggles of the common man trying to live a life of Christ. The change with Gratitude seems to be that, while the raw honesty remains, the edginess appears to have been smoothed somewhat.

The first track, I Am Your Fire, is an appeal to those who would seek fulfillment everywhere but in God. The song opens with a gospel-esque keyboard riff, but transitions into Eli's acoustic-guitar style. The second track, Strong, comes across almost as a response to the previous track - that strength is found in God. Heavier bass and layered electric/acoustic guitar introduce Hallelujah, which offers praise in the midst of the contradictory nature of our world.

Hide and Seek juxtaposes faith in the innocence of a childhood game and the burdens of doubt and perseverance. Sing It Out challenges those who would allow their unique voice to be influenced or silenced by others. Norway/New Song is an anthem to making a choice to trust God despite our circumstances, in acknowledgement that His ways are higher than our own. One of the most painfully difficult questions Christians face is that of why bad things happen to good people, and the apparent lack of justice in the world. Only Heaven Knows honestly admits that some questions we cannot answer to our complete satisfaction, yet recognizes that the only truly Good One took the worst the world has to offer upon Himself.

Perhaps the best two songs on the album follow. What We Don't Talk About questions why we keep trying to deal with our struggles alone, rather than accept the help of those who love us and would reach out to us. A quasi-Mediterranean hook reminiscent of Burlap to Cashmere underlies Stuck In The Middle, a repudiation of a compromising attitude and a call to take a stand for right.

The title track, Gratitude, includes some great lyrical composition: "I could have used a friend, I'm sure I used a few / The worst in every man will get the best of you..." The final track, I worship, is a Davidic-style psalm celebrating the faithfulness of God.

Other reviews:
Christianity Today
Alpha Omega News

OYB: January 21

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 42:18-38, Genesis 43
NT: Matthew 13:47-58, Matthew 14:1-12
Ps: Psalm 18:16-36
Pr: Proverbs 4:7-10

Today´s notable verse:

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 18:30 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Great verses today for us to meditate upon in Psalm 18 verses 25 through 27 - "To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue those who are humble, but you humiliate the proud." [ED: Psalm 18:25-27 (NLT)] I really love verse 28 - "LORD, you have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness." Has Jesus brought light into your life? Does God light up your darkness?

Without a doubt; I don't know how I would wake up each morning and get out of bed without Jesus in my life. I don't know how I would find motivation to give my best effort at work; I don't know how I would find the love and compassion to give selflessly in any relationship. I certainly wouldn't have survived my most recent relationship - during, or after - without Him. But, with Him in my life, what could possibly come against me, and yet prevail? I've already given up my life for Christ (ultimately, in the spiritual sense; but also daily, in the decisions I make, "dying to self" to try to live according to the will of the Father) so the very thing that the world at its worst could take from me - my life - is not my own, and even then, I have something even greater to look forward to.

I'm not strong; I just try to humble myself enough to admit my weakness, and through it seek refuge in God - for it is my weakness that I am made strong.