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  Grace Like Rain
Artist: Todd Agnew
Label: Ardent Records (2003)
Length: 12 Tracks (51:22)

If Todd Agnew's current slot as music minister and worship leader at Memphis' Highpoint Church has an undeniable bearing on the lyrical slant of the better part of his debut record, the singer's former life playing cover tunes on the bar and cafe circuit has certainly influenced its stylistic breadth.  "Grace Like Rain," the title track, is a sweeping, acoustically-driven modern worship offering built around Agnew's powerful, full-bodied voice.  "Romans 12:1" sews the same praise-oriented thread onto peppy, Dave Matthews Band-inflected pop.  And, the towering lead-off single, "This Fragile Breath," is constructed around decidedly Creedlike materials, falling somewhere in the space between "Higher," "Arms Wide Open" and "My Sacrifice." 

Agnew occasionally calls out his influences a bit too literally.  And some could argue that he tries to cover an overabundance of points on the proverbial musical map.   That being said, Agnew is hardly the first person to borrow materials from the Creed or Dave Matthews songwriting storehouses.  And his eclectic tendencies, in a way, end up serving as something of a distinguishing factor - a la Bob Carlisle and his Allies during the late Eighties.  If longevity dictates that Agnew adopt a more distinctive - or at least a more narrow - stylistic approach for successive albums, the first project nonetheless holds an ample supply of engaging, radio-ready singles and ultimately stands, all things considered, as a solid, well-written first effort.

Bert Gangl

   
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