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  Dance With Me
Artist: Evan Earwicker and Whitney Stern
Label: Indie

Whatever happened to worship borne out of exuberant passion for God? Delirious' delightfully singable Cutting Edge began the only-a-matter-of-time berthing of worship as a marketable genre. Songs are judged on commercialism and marketability rather than their ability to lead their audience to the throne of God. Since that time, worship recordings have been sorely lacking in one thing, the very thing worship should never be without: intimacy.
 
Major worship labels have sprouted, almost weekly releasing reliably mediocre recordings. Even the UK, previously the hub of worship music, although at first impassioned, has grown increasingly mundane. Sure, there have been occasional breaths of fresh air, such as the recent Jason Upton, but for the most part, worship music has grown unquestionably stale.
 
Prior to hearing this CD, I'll admit I was completely disenfranchised with the whole worship genre. It was overproduced, overmarketed, and, to a large extent, overrated. With that said, let me just state this right up front: Never -- and I repeat, never -- have I been so impressed nor so affected by a single CD.
 
Chances are you have never heard of Evan Earwicker or Whitney Stern. And since when did anything life-changing emerge from Bend, Oregon? Although, really, who had ever heard of Brownsville? Or Azusa Street? The Holy Spirit's trend seems to be touching down where few expect, and using those that nobody expects.
 
Evan is 17 years old, Whitney only 14. However, the maturity of this music alone belies their ages, as the arrangement of the songs will floor you with their ability to move the listener from emotion to emotion, glory to glory. Each song gives the impression of not being merely written, but rather lovingly crafted with a master's hand. With a deep-throated voice reminiscent of Chris Lizotte or Kelly Joe Phelps, Evan pours out his heart's desire ("Overwhelm me with the fire in your eyes, overwhelm me, I am desperate tonight") with an open honesty rare for one so young.
 
The only qualm I have with this CD is that Whitney's vocals, while more than capable for backup harmonies ("Dance With Me"), seem to fall somewhat short when she attempts to carry lead on "Even So Lord, Come." It's not that she sounds bad or even misses any notes, it's just that at times she seems confused as to where to go with a melody. But hey, she's only 14. I can't wait to hear her in a few more years.
 
The songs on this recording refuse to leave your head. I've been listening to it for a week straight and don't see myself stopping anytime soon. The lyrics are real, the music is infectious, and the unbridled passion contagious. I cannot overstress the importance of this CD. It will renew your faith in the worship genre. Where Matt Redman vows, "We're coming back to the heart of worship," Evan Earwicker and Whitney Stern actually take you there.
 
For more information, including audio and free chords, visit www.dancewithme.org
 
 Jeremiah Wentz 7/28/2003

   
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