REVIEW: Gratitude (Eli)

Filed in ReviewsTags: Music


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