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Artist: Amy’s Confession
length: 12 tracks/56:29 minutes
Paper Crowns, the new release from Amy’s Confession, is quite the rarity in the world of Christopop. A brave balancing of polished musicianship coupled with a wondrous vulnerability emanating through every song, this album is a musical gem. In theory, Paper Crowns falls into the ever-burgeoning, ever-expanding “worship album” category. Trust me when I tell you, they are so much more.
Amy’s Confession is all about Amy. Amy Fatzinger that is. Fatzinger is the heartbeat of Amy’s Confession, serving as chief songwriter, co-producer, and most importantly, lead vocalist. Her sweet alto vocals invoke comparisons to Out of the Grey’s Christine Dente. Indeed, her intensely beautiful solo performance to open the final tune “Would You” leaves me to wonder why the rest of the band even bothered to show up. Yeah, she’s that good. Throughout the rest of the album, she lends her pipes to some of the most dazzling singing I have heard in a while.
Now before I get a guitar smacked over the back of my head and have the rest of the band screech a Jane Bradyish “Amy, Amy, Amy!,” let me give kudos to the rest of Amy’s Confession. Kathryn Blackmon provides some outstanding backing vocals that effectively augment those of Fatzinger. Drummer Chris Hood, bassist Jeff Parker, and guitarist Chris Combs are proficient musicians all and provide a worthy backdrop to the aforementioned Amy. They stick to a fairly consistent folk-pop format filled with alternating acoustic and electric guitar-fronted numbers. Occasionally, they let loose just a little and go off on a nice jangly solo such as on the superb track “I Surrender.”
Fatzinger has the incredible knack to create uncryptic, sometimes heart-tugging, lyrics that brim with meaning and yet, somehow, manage not to come off as pandering. Fatzinger has written a guileless collection of praise and worship songs that succeed in leaving no doubt at Whom they are directed. However, she is far from predictable in her choices of phrasing and, in some cases, inspiration. For example, she utilizes the vastly overlooked Song of Solomon as her muse for the appropriately titled “Song of Solomon”:
You have stolen my heart, My sister, My BrideFurther evidence of her songwriting skills can be found in lyrics such as “I want to dance with you, Dance with you, My love, I long to kiss your lips, I want you to feel My love” (“Dance with Me”) and “Come and rest, My child, Come with Me and dine, Come and break My Bread, Come and drink My Wine” (“Come Rest).” Sure, it is simple, but she captures the essence of what I believe an ideal worship record should be: authentic lyrics not watered down by cliché.
I have to admit that against my better instincts this band has won me over in a way few have done in quite some time. They have accomplished the incredibly difficult task of making a religious album that is accessible to a wide audience: both those who demand obvious Christianity in their choice of music and those who demand artistic sophistication. It is a triumphant marrying of the two styles and a lesson from which other groups should take note.
Paper Crowns is a tonic for those frustrated with all that is predictable in Christian music. This Georgia band will make everyone but the most dourly critical listener a fan of their sincere, sweet, and deep melodies.
Noel Lloyd 10/22/03