Review: Crist Family – Oasis
October 5, 2010 6 Comments
This is the Crist Family’s second release on Horizon Records, after being promoted to Crossroads Music’s top label before their previous release, Declaration. Once again, the group indicates featured vocalists in the liner notes of the CD, which with 7 vocalists is a big help in reviewing the disc.
- He Is Amazing – This song by Amber Maxwell is an interesting way to start the disc. A prolonged introduction (over a full minute) using simply strings leads into a beautiful ballad that is similar stylistically to a ballad from 1930s or 1940s. Beautiful lyrics are complemented well by some gorgeous big band harmonies. It’s a unique start to the CD, but it works! 9.5/10
- I Love Lovin’ Jesus – Contributed by Rebecca Peck and Marty Funderburk is this upbeat tune that has a bit of a new pop/country feel to it. Jackie Crist is given the lead on this song, and she proceeds to deliver what I consider to be the most radio ready song the Crists have ever recorded. In fact, this song was just released to radio this month. Be looking for it to move up the charts quickly as it just has that “radio sound.” You will find yourself singing the chorus to this song all day long as it has an infectious melody and catchy lyrics. One of the picks of the album to be sure! 10/10
- My Oasis – Breana Crist has her first vocal feature on this midtempo country influenced tune from the pen of Mike Spanhanks. Breana does a fine job on the song, and is a bit comparable to Courtney Collingsworth in that she tends to be a bit overlooked, but is a fine vocalist in her own right. This song fits Breana very well and is a beautiful reminder of God’s provision in times of trouble. This could also find its way to radio fairly easily. 9.5/10
- Rhythm Of Grace – This may go down alongside of the Booth Brothers “All Over The World” as two of the most original sounding songs recorded in SG in a long time. The song starts out with an African men’s ensemble singing in Swahili, and keeps the African feel throughout . Written by Kenneth Mullins and Rebecca Peck, Rich Crist delivers a great vocal on a really enjoyable song. The song feels like a sibling to the old Newsong cut “Rhythm Of The World.” When they were recording this album, Rich Crist and I had a long conversation one night on Facebook about this song. He was really excited about the song, and for good reason. It’s a great song, and a really different feel. I don’t know how well the more traditional element in SG would receive this on radio, but it’s a great cut. 10/10
- His Strength Is Perfect – Bringing things back down to earth somewhat is this Steven Curtis Chapman (yes, that Steven Curtis Chapman) and Jerry Salley penned ballad that is sung expertly by Tami Starkel. The song has a light pop type feel to it, and really contrasts from the previous cut. It’s a very pretty song with some incredible lyrics, which if you know the trials Chapman has been through in the accidental death of a daughter, make the lyric even more profound. It’s a powerful song, and a good way to rein things back in after the “wild” cut in “Rhythm of Grace.” 9/10
- Deeper – Jimmy Buffet meets Southern Gospel is the best way I can describe this song by Russell Dean. Rich Crist carries this midtempo tune that has a bit of a tropical feel to it. It’s a shame that I didn’t get this CD until after my week of vacation at the beach. I could have really gotten into sitting in a beach chair listening to this song with the sound of the ocean in the background. Southern Gospel Beach music…who else but the Crist Family would come up with this? 9/10
- Voice Of The Father – Jackie Crist takes the lead on this flowing ballad from Rebecca Peck. It’s a beautiful song and Jackie does a great job on it. It has a bit of a minor feel, and is similar stylistically to what you might hear from the Isaacs. Good, solid cut. 8.5/10
- Anyway – The arrangement on this song from Kelly Garner and John Darin Rowsey is about as frenetic as the day described in the lyrics. It’s a great way to connect the music of the song to the story in the lyrics and reinforce the message of the song. Tami Starkel does a great job of selling the song, as you can really picture her going through the things she describes in the verses. Solid song. 8/10
- I Love You Son – This is a country ballad contributed by Quint Randle, Patricia Smith, and Jeff Hinton. Typically, this is a bit more of a heavier country feel than where my tastes lie, but as a father of a 5 year old son, the lyrics to this song really speak to me. Rich Crist gives a good performance on this song, and the only other vocal on the song is some duet harmony with Jackie on the chorus and bridge. It’s a pretty song with lyrics that will especially speak to fathers. 8.5/10
- There Is A Fountain – This is a big power ballad written by Jim Brady. Tami Starkel takes the lead on this song ,and it is huge. The first verse features a quartet of Tami, Lisa Crist, Rich, and Tom Joyce. Those four could rival any mixed quartet on the road. This song would have been right at home had Jim kept this one for the Booth Brothers and their Declaration release earlier this year. The chorus features some really smooth harmony from the group. A bridge of a couple lines of “Nothing But The Blood” really starts to build the intensity, and the momentum continues through a repeat of the chorus and reaches its zenith in a huge tag. Great song. 9.5/10
- Until He Comes – This is a smooth, flowing ballad written by Deborah Egle. Lisa Crist gets her first feature on a Crist Family project here, and turns in a fine performance. The song has a smooth, understated feel to it, and Lisa gives her vocal the same kind of feel. Sometimes getting the message across doesn’t require big, flashy vocals. On songs like this one, it’s best to stay within the melody from the songwriter and let the beauty of the lyrics and melody carry the song. It’s refreshing to see and hear an artist that understands this concept. Lisa’s melody is accentuated with smooth harmonies from the rest of the group. This is a great song to close with, as the lyrics provide a great wrap up to the disc. As Rich quotes in his liner notes, “Until He comes, may he find me faithful.” 8.5/10
Overall: 9.5 With 7 vocalists on board, the Crist Family is musically the most versatile group in SG today. The single biggest thing that has impressed me about them over the past few years is their willingness to experiment and take risks musically. This CD doesn’t push the envelope nearly as far as Declaration did, but they still display their sense of adventure with “Rhythm Of Grace” and to a lesser extent with the tropical flavored “Deeper.” The two Crist daughters, Breana and Jackie, really shine on their contributions to the album, and really seem to “steal the show”, so to speak. “I Love Lovin’ Jesus” just screams radio hit, so be sure to be listening for it soon. Lisa Crist’s debut on “Until He Comes” is the perfect way to conclude the CD.
While Declaration served as an announcement of the group as taking a big step forward and showcasing the group’s versatility and musical “guts”, Oasis seems to be more content to bring them back a little into the mainstream of Southern Gospel and show their ability to stand toe to toe with more established artists in the genre. As such, it succeeds. The Crist Family, with producers Rich Crist and Jeff Collins, have produced a very enjoyable CD filled with some strong songs, great lyrics, and good arrangements. This is one that you’ll definitely want to add to your collection. Great job by all involved!