“The project manager, Chuck Brown, writes in the liner notes, “It’s not supposed to be this good… to bring together 30 people from Central Ohio… and end up with something this wonderful!” That pretty well describes this project. If the promotional material had not said so, you wouldn’t know that this barrage of musicians was not working together on a daily basis. This project has continuity for the most part, in a listenable and, more importantly, likeable manner.
A Love Like Yours is a good opener. It’s musically solid, with a good melody and good hook. This is squarely in the middle of CCM, with the emphasis on Contemporary, a very “now” CCM sound. You can see Point of Grace doing this one. Beautiful lyrics with complementing instrumentation and a nice melody. Everyone will be grabbing the CD jacket while listening to One Thing. I’ll save you the trouble. That unique and incredible voice is Kim Rattan’s. Don’t fast forward from the originating guitar chord — this isn’t a hard rock song, but almost “alternative praise”. Fantastic track…. there simply isn’t a better word for it. As often as I listen to this CD, it is to One Thing that I keep returning. Chuck Brown wrote a masterpiece, but it’s the production that sets a song like this apart from the original pen and paper beginnings, as there is obvious thought put into the arrangment. This clearly is demonstrated from the extensive musician credits lending their obvious top-notch talents to this proejct. The lyrics come straight from Psalm27:4-6.
One True Love sounds like a hit single. No wonder — Randy Stonehill wrote it two decades ago. A well written song is timeless! This remix is GREAT and should be getting instant radio play after hitting any DJ’s lucky hands. Not necessarily so for the next cut. Rap may make a project appeal to a larger audience, but for this reviewer, Is This the Man?’s song placement completely obliverates the continuity of The Big Love! I would tend to think the variety aspect was more important to the album producers….but the end of the album would have lessened the shock to the system of the listener. It’s the only song that seems “out of place” on an otherwise fluid CD.
Bad Fruit is another remake of a Randy Stonehill classic. Its jungle beat (complete with animal sounds 😉 and easy reggae style make this sound better than the original. David Schuiteman has a very rich, smooth, and laid-back vocal here that carries the song. Hosanna will have you singing along from the first verse, and joining Cynthia Hale’s sweeping backups at the song’s end. What a catchy tune! There’s a 70s Calvary Chapel feel on the chorus, gathered together at the beach, worshipping the Lord with outstretched arms and unashamed voices. Lest you think is a gentle song, Michael Alexander Jackson provides some explosive electric guitars. A very emotional song that plays well to any audience.
Praise Him runs the gamut from light rap to big band sound, all wrapped up in one nice little package. It’s a reminder of the many different ways we all praise Him, supported of course by many different wonderful musicians in the confines of Ohio. Cynthia Hale lets loose on Light of the World, a bluesy full arangment complete with wah-wah pedal guitar work. The piano, horns and male vocal at song’s end are simply superb on another well written song by Chuck and Tom Nichus. If it can be cut down a little shorter than 6:00, No Other Gods has great radio potential across many different genres. It has a Big Love worship feeling, with again top-notch instrumentation behind it, including the great mandolin picking by Richard Reau. Donna Mogavero’s lead has a Heart feel to it, one that rings truth, and one that pushes you to consider whether there are, in fact, other “gods” in your life. Andy and Michael Alexander Jackson’s guitars here are riviting to say the least! This song has some of the best production work (Neal Havener) I have honestly ever heard. An incredible cut that will be played over and over by every listener.
The Grace Project puts a more contemporary sound with Have You Seen This Child?, one of the better Gaither songs. The CCM feel works well in this soul seeking song. Christian Howes’ string arrangements gives this moodful song a wonderfully longing feel. A classical gas acoustic guitar introduces The Big Love which has a Billy Joel at his best vocal/musical arrangment mood to it. Fortunately its lyrics are much better. A definate get-out-of-your-pews-and-dance-in-the-aisles kind of song! You Never Know is the perfect closer. Noelle McClelland gently sings a heartfelt prayer, “You never know where you will be in a minute… Lord, don’t let me waste this day.” The numerous days recording and mixing The Big Love! were surely not wasted. You can tell one and all had a good time by the hidden tag that follows the last track.
This project is one of those CDs that you keep for years and years and you never grow out of. This goes to show you what can happen when you bring in half a dozen great original songs, toss in a few classics along with a bunch of talented musicians, and mix them up with the right bunch of producers, engineers and editors! The outcome is The Big Love, and time will prove that the moments put into this music were truly anointed by His hand.
“what a treat!… some seriously good work here… “You Never Know”: Very nice lyric. I’m falling in love with the voice of Noelle McClelland…”Is This The Man?”: This is truly legit rap. This D. Skite guy is “down with it!”… “Hosanna”: One of my favorite Christian songs of all time. I really like the arrangement…”Have You Seen This Child?”: just a killer melody…”The Big Love”: Fun…Very cool!…a real solid CD. I enjoyed it…Kudos to you!”
Bill DeWees, Station Manager
“Jazz, soul, Funk and rap combine joyously in groovy songs of worship and contemplative ballads. High point: vocalist instructs band to “Praise Him with the drums / Praise Him with the strings,” and each musician gets their own sanctified solo.”
Tim Quirk, Associate Editor
“Chuck Brown is an Ohio-based songwriter who also owns the label Grandma Katherine’s Music. His release features some local male and female vocalists singing both Chuck’s original songs and some well-chosen covers. My favorite is an old Randy Stonehill song called “Bad Fruit,” which I belive was on his second album, “The Sky is Falling.” It’s a corny song in typical Randy fashion, treated here in a reggae style. One of my other favorite Stonehill songs is also included, the later period “One True Love.”
Musicanship is top-rate here, with a wide variety of styles from straight CCM (“A Love like Yours”), to reggae, to soul music (“Light of the World”). While I didn’t recognize any of the vocalists, they are a talented bunch.
You wouldn’t think a project like this would include a hidden track, but if there is any question about the record it’s why they would include an extra few minutes of studio gab after a slow, mournful song at the end. It’s a mystery to me.”
“Inspirational. Stunning lead vocals! Moving piece of Pop music with a message! Great singing and instrumentation!”
“Another truly killer outstanding awesome indie project!! Many styles represented, but all are excellent. Do yourself a favor, pick this puppy up, slap it in your CD player, sit back and be amazed!! We give it 10,000,000 stars, or whatever… We love it!”
“I just LOVE your CD. Every time we climb in the car, the kids say “Mom, can we hear that ‘church CD’? We all just love it…I am so impressed with your song writing!”
“I just got it yesterday and my fiancee and I listened to it all last night and all morning this morning. I just love it! It’s different from a lot of other Christian music I’ve heard. It’s got a lot of heart…we were totally impressed!”
“I really enjoyed it. I like the material. Who sang “No Other Gods”? – especially nice! Good playing. It drew me in.”
“Oh, I just had to let you know how much I love The Grace Project! My favorite songs are “Bad Fruit”, “You Never Know” and “Praise Him”. I’ve been listening to it a lot!”
“I really enjoyed the set of tracks. The album explores a wide variety of styles. A good album to just sit and listen to. Generally a good set of distinct music styles.”
I recently ordered your cd called “The Big Love!” and I love it!! I really like the music variety and God-centered lyrics!