Amy Be StillIf you grew up with these songs in church you'll be singing along and finding them as comfortable as a well-fitting pair of shoes.

Be Still and Know... Hymns & Faith
Amy Grant
AG Productions
15 tracks / 65:34

Free of pretense and stylistic quirks, Be Still And Know... Hymns & Faith is a collection of familiar, classic, right-out-of-the-hymnal songs performed in a style just-shy of country that respects the sources and serves to further the legacy of these foundational anthems of the church. There's no attempt – thankfully – to make these landmark tunes 'relevant' by rendering them in maudlin folk settings or trying to fit them into pop or rock formats. If you grew up with these songs in church you'll be singing along and finding them as comfortable as a well-fitting pair of shoes.

Certainly there's nothing surprising or unexpected about a hymns project from Amy Grant – unless, that is, you're still one of those that have decided to direct massive doses of righteous indignation against this entertainment icon for the 'sin' of becoming successful in 'the world' – how dare she cash in on the hymns?! Then again, you might be one of those who would more charitably say, 'why should I be interested in yet another hymns album by a Christian artist?' I would tend to be part of that second group, except for one thing: Be Still And Know... Hymns & Faith is one of the most enjoyable hymns projects I've heard from anyone in the Christian market.

The album is mostly collected from Grant's previous hymn projects, Legacy...Hymns & Faith and Rock of Ages...Hymns & Faith with two new tracks produced by Vince Gill: the iconic "Power in The Blood," and the title-track, "Be Still and Know." With the exception of songs like "Carry You," and Amy's early classic, "El Shaddai," the album reads like a Sunday morning sing: "Just As I Am," "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," "Softly and Tenderly," "My Jesus I Love Thee"... the list goes on. This is not cool. This is not trendy. This is real. In a musical environment where hymn projects and 'praise and worship' projects (and I still don't know what the definition of 'praise and worship' ought to be) are churned out with regularity but not much conviction, Be Still And Know... Hymns & Faith is a refreshing return to where it all started in the first place – the hymn book.

Grant's vocals – never over the top, never diva-like – make the songs easy to enjoy. Gill's more soulful delivery does the passion of the message proper service, while the real-musician instrumentation of guitar, keys, bass and percussion bring it home in a real, visceral, but restrained way. When Gill and Grant sing together – like on "This is My Father's World," it's pure listening joy, even to this old rock & roller...

In these days where it's so important to be hip, to be relevant, to be contemporary and edgy, there's a real value in revisiting the basics, and it's done very well on this collection. There's a time for everything, and sometimes there's a time to simply say, "My Jesus, I love Thee – I know Thou art mine." Be Still And Know... Hymns & Faith says it very well.

Bert Saraco