In His Light
Artist: Amy Choate
Label: Independent release
Tracks: 10/ 32.41
This is something new for Amy Choate. Having begun her career
in theatre (as we Brits spell it) and opera, she has recorded this--her
first Gospel pop album. This was going to be something new for me
too. Listening to operatic voices doesn't come high on my list of
preferred entertainment, falling somewhere below listening to Celine Dion,
which itself is just below having teeth pulled. I was either going
to hate this, or be pleasantly surprised.
Choate does have a highly trained voice, no doubt the result of
her vocational and educational background (she possesses a music degree
in voice from Miami amongst other qualifications). However, even though
that training is evident throughout this album, her voice is pure and light
enough and her singing sensitive enough for it not to be a problem for
even the most prejudiced of listeners (like me). In fact, after a
few listens I've warmed considerably to it and can only agree with the
reviewer who described her voice as "[having a] crystalline purity of tone...
[a] light silvery soprano" on her website. Maybe the only moment
on the album I would leave the room for is the very end of "Victorious
King", which has a big mega-vibrato high note, then another even higher
one, aimed possibly at the Mariah Carey fans and canine-torturers among
The playing and production on this album are very slick, up to the
standards of a major-label release. The sleeve, sadly, would have
benefitted from a more professional design--there are spelling mistakes
and a few poor choices of fonts and colours which should have been avoided.
So, what of the songs? Well, half of them were written or
co-written by Choate herself and the others are by modern pop-gospel writers,
with one exception, more of which later. The opener, "My Heaven"
(Biga-Choate/Moody) starts gently and promisingly, in a soft Celtic-tinged
ballad kind of way. It sets out Ms Choate's stall in an intelligent manner,
demonstrating her vocal purity and control. Track two, "Let It Go
And Let God In", from the same songwriting partnership, is a more upbeat
piano/guitar driven affair--much like her namesake Ms Grant might have
sung, but marred by some cheesy 'Sha La La....' singalongs which are just
a bit too much to bear after "My Heaven"'s 'La La La' refrains.
Apart from all the "La La La"-ing on the early tracks, the album's
lyrics are forthrightly and explicitly Christian, as you might expect.
There is no mistaking the meanings in these songs, which I guess is good
when you have something important to say. Most of the lyrics of the
cover songs, regrettably, were contrived or platitudinous. Maybe
they're older songs, from the days when Christian songwriters often thought
a strong message, no matter how clumsily worded, was better than good art.
Maybe these songs have a special place in Ms Choate's heart. They
don't in mine. The exception I mentioned earlier is a cover of Minnie
Riperton's "Lovin' You."
Here aimed at God, it offers nothing more than that over the original
and serves only to show that Ms Choate can squeal those high notes as well
as Minnie did. (I suspect that 'squeal' may not be the correct musical
The music, despite (or maybe because of) the slick production, is
pretty bland to my ears--and fairly derivative. Apart from the singing
I could be listening to one of countless pop/gospel albums by one of a
thousand writers. An illustration of this was "I Am Loved, My God, By You"
(Biga-Choate/Moody). I first heard that track without the sleeve
in front of me and was convinced it was going to be a version of Darlene
Zschech's "My Jesus, My Saviour". For the first two and a half bars
it IS "My Jesus, My Saviour" note for note. I'm accusing no-one of
plagiarism here, but it shows how narrow a field worship music can be at
In summary, I was pleasantly surprised by this album. The
sleeve led me to expect something less polished, and the letter which detailed
Choate's singing background had me fearing the worst, but those fears were
mainly unfounded. As a showcase for her considerable vocal talents,
it works very well. As a gospel/pop/call-it-what-you-will album for
repeated listening it's less good - let down by songs that are weaker than
their execution. Nevertheless, it's a promising start.
By Daren Allder