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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Take Me Back
Artist: Kent Bottenfield
Label: IBB Records / BMI
Time: 14 Tracks / 58:54
He used to be zinging pitches now he is zinging hits-okay bad choice of words. Kent Bottenfield is a former all star pitcher who now writes and sings good songs.
I couldn't help but chuckle at the title of the opening track "I Can't Wait To Go Home" from the CD Take Me Back. It conjured up the image of a runner stranded on second base. This passionately sung tune however expresses the hope and expectation we all have of a heavenly home.
"They Went" co-written with Van Lawson chronicles Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. The use of strings provides moody overtones and shadows reflecting a dark night of befitting of the mystery and wonder that lay ahead.
While most I suspect will classify this CD as belonging in the AC market with the exception of "A Prayer Away" and "Trusting In Love," I tend to hear the album as more in the INSPO genre. In some respects it is a genre that has almost become forgotten in Christian radio's headlong rush to prove it can compete in all the same genres as the mainstream market. You won't find Bottenfield's songs being played on K-Love but he should find an appreciative audience with open arms welcoming him the INSPO stations.
One of the things that makes Take Me Back work so well are the fine arrangements and the work of the instrumentalists. Drummer and percussionist Dane Clark combines with bassist Randy Melson to provide depth. Keyboardist Sandy Williams adds to the textures and colors. The work of the backup vocalists is particularly notable on "I Remember." Although the backup vocalist differ from song to song, the always wonderful Nirva Dorsaint, Michael Mellett and Drew Cline are splendid on "I Remember."
One should emphasize that Bottenfield is not merely a former athlete wondering what to do next. His vocals have a rich timbre. The reworking of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" revives the resplendent lyrics of hymn writer Thomas Chisholm.
For those who enjoy good guitar work listen carefully to the gentle licks laid down by Van Lawson and Sandy Williams on the ninth track "Wash Over Me."
"Trusting in Love" is a contemporary country tune that provides a nice of change of pace for the record. Frankly this is my favorite song on the album. I like the easy lilt and it is not heavily imbued with twang.
I hope this time next year I look at the CCLI charts and find Kent Bottenfield's name there beside some of these great songs.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.
Kent Bottenfield's name should ring a faint bell to baseball fans. He was a 1999 All-Star as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, and pitched for four teams during his big league career. During that time, Bottenfield gave impromptu "locker room concerts" for his teammates, and generally received good reviews.
As a fan of both baseball and music, I can say this with certainty: had Bottenfield never thrown a pitch and instead had decided to concentrate on music, he could have been equally successful, assuming the vagaries of the music industry cooperated in his favor. Take Me Back settles quite well into the adult contemporary niche where Steevn Curtis Chapman is firmly entrenched.
Aided by longtime industry veteran Michael Omartian, Bottenfield wavers between Chapman, MercyMe, and Ray Boltz vocally as well as musically. "I Can't Wait to Go Home" reveals an earthly man with his mind on Heaven, although the video for this song contained on the DVD also ties it in with the troops stationed overseas. "Great is Thy Faithfulness" stretches to reach a Keith Green-style height, and almost gets there. "I Remember" is a '70's style singer/songwriter tune.
"Take Me Back," also featured on the DVD, is a fairly typical tale for most of us – it reveals a person who has allowed life and work and obligations to obscure the clear view he once had of God and family. Both song and video walk a fine line in not beating us over the head with the point, yet managing to touch the heart of those who need to be convicted by these words.
At fourteen songs, the disc feels a touch overlong, but for the most part, Kent Bottenfield's debut is a good one. It is not difficult to envision him once again playing before large crowds, although that would be a relative term considering his previous career.
Brian A. Smith