Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The one with the Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia

This is not the soundtrack of the Chronicles of Narnia featuring the Alanis Morissette single Wunderkind. Rather, it is a collection of well-selected tracks from well-known Christian artists, singing original songs inspired by the film and the theology behind the film and the book that inspired it, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the second of the seven-part Chronicles of Narnia series, the first being The Magician's Nephew).

I'd like to believe I have remained strangely quiet on the hooplah behind The Chronicles of Narnia, even if the series is my favorite literary collection of all time. Even before Disney and Walden Media decided to snap this one up, and even before most Filipinos knew of the existence of the BBC series now available at most record bars for P150 a two-disc pop, I read the series and admit it strengthened my faith in more ways that I can think of right now - especially the triumphant The Last Battle, which I cannot wait to see on the silver screen.

That being said, is it possible to enjoy this collection of music without having read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? I'd like to believe so. Most of these tracks stands on their own, both from a musical and theological perspective, although, admittedly, having read the book will prove useful in understanding some of the lyrics.

When I purchase Contemporary Christian music, I always listen to it first (which is why MusicOne almost always gets my business), ensuring that the music does one of two things: minister to me, or have the potential to minister to others (evangelization material). That said, this album caters more to the former than the latter.

Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia opens with Jars of Clay, the quintessential crossover Christian pop-rock band (they've been around ten years!), singing the light and buttery Waiting for the World to Fall. First single, the mid-tempo Remembering You, Stephen Curtis Chapman, is accompanied by a video easily available for viewing and/or download on the Web, is a memorable ode to Aslan's sacrifice and the anticipation of his returning. Jeremy Camp's Open Up Your Eyes is certainly fetching in melody and lyric, and that Bethany Dillon follows this up with the anthemic Hero, makes for a phenomenal introduction to the album.

From there, however, Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia stumbles a bit. Delirious does a strange turn with Stronger, which mistakes guitar distortion for strength, and while reminiscent of their edgier sound, deviates from the album's mid-AC feel thus far. Rebecca St. James, two of whose albums happen to be in our collection by sheer virtue of one of Cathy's cousins being a huge St. James fan, continues to bore us, this time with Lion, which is an excellent track, but is unremarkable in her rendering.

TobyMac, formerly of the redhot Christian rap-rock band DC Talk, takes us back on track with New World, the first of two tracks explicitly connected with the Chronicles of Narnia; his rap-rock brand remains edgy and exciting. Nichole Nordeman surprises us with an alternative-sounding I Will Believe; those among us who knew Nordeman for Holy and You are Holy will find this track decidedly different, and pleasantly addicting.

This brings me to the strangest track on the album, Turkish Delight by the David Crowder Band, the second of two tracks explicitly connected with the Chronicles of Narnia, referring specifically to the enchanted pastry that casts a spell over Edmund and leads him to try and lead his family and friends into the White Witch's clutches. Reminiscent of disco and Jamiroquai circa mid-90s, Turkish Delight doesn't seem to belong on this album with its infectious melody and toe-tapping rhythm. The lyrics betray Edmund's sinister intentions ("I would sell you out, I'd give you all away!"). However, this track works for me (it didn't for a lot of other reviewers on, and is arguably the best track on the album.

After the highlight that is Turkish Delight, a letdown is expected, and unfortunately, Kutless claims this unworthy distinction with the rather gentle but unmemorable More Than It Seems. The worshipful You're the One from Chris Tomlin, famed worship leader and Michael W. Smith contemporary, closes this album out.

Overall, Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia is a decent album and an adequate companion to the other Narnia merchandise you've undoubtedly purchased. Go pick a copy up.

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