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Just As I Am
Artist: Kristin Chenoweth
Label: Sony/Integrity Music
length: 13 Tracks/55:02
Christian Contemporary Music personified. That is about as descriptive as I can get with the music on this album. Nope, that’s not a put-down merely a fact.
The production is slick, high quality and filled with songs that do not stray far from the CCM formula. A smatter of standards – "Because He Lives", "Joyful, Joyful" and the title track – sit nicely with the newer material. Chenoweth has a sweet vocal style that is as easy as it is comfortable.
But what makes Just As I Am an album worth investigating is the opening "It Will Be Me". A country-pop exercise that features a lovely pedal steel that literally makes the song. The rest of Just As I Am tries its level best to follow that high without quite succeeding.
As I Am introduces the Christian music world to Kristin Chenoweth, who has made her mark performing in Broadway musicals and appearing on various NBC shows, including The West Wing. She is also the "special guest performer" for this year's Women in Faith conferences.
With that type of resume, one would have high hopes for As I Am, her CCM debut. Unfortunately, the album falls flat as Chenoweth has essentially released an album of cover tunes. The only new song is "Borrowed Angles," written by Diane Warren. MercyMe's "Word of God Speak" pales in magnitude to the original, while "Upon This Rock" (Sandi Patty) reveals Chenoweth straining to reach the high notes, coming as strident rather than emphatic.
Kritsin Chenoweth is a very talented actress and singer. She has upcoming roles in the remakes of Bewitched and The Pink Panther, has appeared in The Music Man, and Wicked, and had an NBC sitcom for a short time. But, with the exception of "Power," As I Am is a well-intentioned disc that well ultimately be unmemorable.
Brian A. Smith