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Woven and Spun
Artist: Nichole Nordeman
Label: Sparrow Records
Length: 12 tracks

Nordeman's third release, Woven and Spun, strikes a new chord and a fresh melody with a strong recording. The worship bent album kicks off with a fresh groove called "Holy," which will make you want to hit the back button to listen over and again.  But resist the urge, there are plenty of songs worth listening to on the album.

Like all of her previous releases, Nordeman, once again, shows that she can take a fragment of her faith and turn it into a beautiful understandable truth.  She does all of this, while keeping the lyrics amazingly insightful.  Thus, as the project unfolds, one realizes that they are looking through a window into the heart of how Nordeman worships God. 

All of the recorded songs can be likened to a prayer from Nordeman's heart straight to the realm of God's domain.  She thanks God for his "Mercies New," for being "Healed," offers her "Doxology," and asks God to "Take me as I Am." 

The themed album is great, because it's a form of worship, but not atypical of the Nashville scene.  It's a fresh breath of prayers written with deep insight and a realness that is reflected in the lyrics and pointed ideas.

 Nordeman's transparency couldn't be more clearly written than in the balled entitled, "I Am."  Nordeman sings, "Only 16, life is so mean, what kind of curfew is 10 PM.  He saw my mistakes, saw my heart break...Heartache healer, secret keeper, be my best friend, you said, I am."

The album is relatively slow with the exception of the title track and the Sheryl Crow like, "(I have) Never Loved You More."

The album ends with, "Gratitude," Nordemans last and final prayer on the recording.  It's fitting that she ends the CD with a song about thanksgiving and a last reflection on why she loves God so much.

John Wehrle 11/2/2002

Back in 1987, Sam Phillips sang that "answers don't come easy." Nichole Nordeman knows that. Never one to shy away from the difficulties and painful truths of life, the talented poet, singer, and pianist has quickly developed a reputation as one of the most profound and honest Christian lyricists around. Like Bono, Nordeman "wrestles the Angel" and searches her soul for answers to the mysteries of God.

Woven and Spun, her third album, finds Nordeman penning lyrics packed with just as much profundity and depth as ever before, but with a new twist. Instead of simply asking questions, the singer dares to explore the answers and their implications. Weaving (pun intended) tales of God's mercy and redemptive grace, Nichole Nordeman has created the purest and most intelligent worship recording of the year.

The album's grand, dramatic opener, "Holy," may aggravate hard rock fans with its faint traces of top 40 trendiness, but it puts most other pop radio singles to shame with Nichole's passionate cry that "Somehow all that matters no is/ You are holy." Nordeman's metaphors are at their most poetic on the piano ballad, "Healed" ("We stutter and we stammer til You say us/ A symphony of chaos til You play us"), while "I Am" gushes with an honesty that is far too uncommon in music these days. A personal favorite track is the mid-tempo "Legacy," which ends with the challenging lyric, "Not well traveled, not well read/ not well-to-do or well bred/ Just want to hear instead/ "Well done, good and faithful one."

Vocally, Nichole has never sounded better, and her ivory-tickling skills are particularly impressive on piano-based songs like "I Am" and "Healed." Despite being co-produced by prolific Christian rock genius Charlie Peacock, though, much of Woven and Spun suffers from sounding a bit too much like everything else coming out of Nashville these days. "Never Loved You More," for example, sounds far too pedestrian for an artist of Nichole's caliber. Even more lackluster is "Mercies New," which drearily shuffles along like a constipated rhinoceros. The awkward positioning of the song as the second track and the rather pointless cameo by Bebo Norman doesn't help matters.

Midway through the album, Nordeman and Peacock risk a cover of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," one of the most beloved songs of the 80s. Gabriel fans can relax, though, because Nordeman's interpretation isn't very different from the original. In fact, the song is almost like a carbon copy of the original, which increases the slight feel of sonic staleness that so unfortunately plagues half of Woven and Spun.

In "Even Then," one of the album's most moving cuts, Nordeman sings: "It's fear that keeps me wide awake...when the expectations are too great." Perhaps she feels this way about picky music critics, afraid of not living up to our sometimes unfair standards. And maybe my own quibbles with her sometimes-bland sound and lack of musical adventurousness are a bit harsh. A cliche sound, though, is just as uncreative as cliche lyrics, and Nordeman would probably be better off teaming up with a producer who is more willing to take some risks. With that said, Nichole Nordeman is easily one of the most inventive, honest, and profound lyricists writing today, and her remarkable pen has created an uplifting and worshipful testament to God'd goodness with Woven and Spun.

Josh Hurst  11/8/2002


 
 

 

   
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