Artist: Todd Agnew
Fifteen years ago, the CCM
world produced a man I believed very strongly in, a man who knew his flaws,
didn't hide them, yet produced some of the best lyrics and music I have
ever heard in this genre. Many have tried to fill the niche Rich
Mullins vacated almost eight years ago. Some, like Andrew Peterson,
Chris Rice, Sara Groves, and Mitch McVicker, have done a lot to recall
the "realness" of Mullins.
I don't know if that was
Todd Agnew's intent when he wrote the songs for Reflection of Something,
or if it was coincidental that he appears of the cover art unshaven, barefoot,
in a comfortable pair of jeans. What I do know is that this disc
stands out in a time where much of CCM is formulaic, cookie cutter, color
by numbers fluff designed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator.
Agnew has a gruff raspiness
to his vocals that places him in the general area of Mac Powell, Russ Taff,
Jeremy Camp, and Allies-era Bob Carlisle. "Something Beautiful" reflects
a rough edge in his personality as well, as he wonders aloud how God "could
fall in love with [him]", while he struggles to find something attractive
"Blood on My Hands" addresses
the crucifixion, the blame shared by all Christians, and incorporates the
old hymn "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross" into it chorus. "Isaiah 6"
is directly quoted from the Bible, and employs a huskiness in vocal quality
that adequately portrays the awe Isaiah felt at seeing the Lord.
"Where Were You?" is a depiction
of God's answer to Job's complaints, and perhaps the answer to ours as
well. Done in a Michael Been (The Call) style, it addresses the questions
we have no right to ask, and reminds us of how small we truly are in the
grand scheme of things.
The most challenging song
on the disc is "My Jesus." It cuts to the bone in its questions,
of how we wish to be seen by God:
Who is this that
Agnew is careful to include
himself in his indictment of casual Christianity, saying "I want to be
like you Jesus, but I don't know how." He is correct in his assumption
that our lives are "Reflections of Something," and is clear on what he
wants his life to reflect. This disc serves as a reminder of what
it should be in our lives.
This picture of
the American dream
If Jesus was here,
would you walk right by on
The other side,
or fall down and worship at his Holy feet...
'cause my Jesus would
never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on
His feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the
hurting and despises the proud
I think he'd prefer Beale
St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can
hear me if I cry out loud...
Brian A. Smith
10 September 2005