If you've seen Steven Curtis Chapman in concert over the past couple years, there's a good chance you've seen Geoff Moore make an appearance on stage as well. Since Geoff departed his pop rock band Geoff Moore & the Distance in the late 90's, he's taken a few steps back out of the spotlight, simultaneously padding the time between releasing new music. His most recent recording, Saying Grace, releases four years after his previous project, Speak To Me (which released four years after the album that preceded it). Like that album, Saying Grace takes more of a folk rock approach to songwriting, fusing stories and song in a musically accessible yet intimate packaging.
Seeing Moore on tour with Chapman brought up the question in my mind as to what this once-active member of the CCM community was doing other than helping his friend and co-songwriter spread the word about the miracle of adoption. Saying Grace answers the question with a warm smile and a firm handshake; from the bold and memorable opening track, "I Believe," Moore reintroduces himself with a declaration of affirmation, singing, "When the storm clouds roll over me / When I'm seized by uncertainty / When the odds are too great / When I bend from the weight / I believe, I believe, I believe." Hearing these words spoken from a man who has weathered many storms and still stands strong, through a voice that shows as many miles and frailty yet confidence in his Savior, carries significant weight with them. It's a welcoming start to the record, and it sets the table for the journey Moore has prepared for the listener. The title track is another highlight that encourages the listeners to remember to live a life of thankfulness and devotion, with "Loved" serving as an appropriate successor, focusing on how nothing in our lives affects how much God truly loves us.
"The Story of Love" is a soft folk ballad inspired by Moore's own life and family, with a lovely chorus that sings, "I've been thinking about my story, the places I come from / Been thinking about the mercy that shaped what I've become / Been thinking about my children / I pray I'm passing on the story of love that runs through everything." It's a touching song, especially for anyone who has grown up with Moore's music and has started a family of their own. "Overwhelming Love" picks up the pace a bit from here and switches gears to an unmistakably worshipful direction (it could be a great addition to Sunday morning worship services). "The Body Of Christ" is another folk ballad that marries the tenderness of "The Story of Love" with pensive lyrics about what the community of believers looks like. "Find Me in the Fields," like the title track, is a sentimental retrospective, this time about how Moore found Christ at a young age. "The Long Way" is an upbeat folk rocker about the faith and journey of following Christ's direction that also would fit nicely on any road trip soundtrack. "The Wonder of Kindness" and "Made To Love" slow things down once more to leave the album in an intimate fashion, with the latter using a delicate piano melody and brittle vocal to leave a lasting impression on the listener.
Saying Grace is a beautiful album that uses the storytelling traits of folk music to share the deepest parts of a man of faith's heart. Geoff Moore's music has matured well along with the singer/songwriter, and it's the honesty and brokenness coupled with his unwavering declarations of faith that make this album a rewarding listen.- Review date: 8/28/11, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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