The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume 2 Review

Thom Granger

CCM Magazine May 1992

Hello old friends
There's really nothing new to say
But the old old story bears repeating
And the plain old truth grows dearer every day...

So begins Volume 2 of Rich Mullins' 'rememberances', to the delicate sounds of Billy Crockett's acoustic guitar. It's an approach that resonates well with Mullins' audience, who've taken his songs to heart and doubtless come to feel more like friends than fans. Those words are also key to understanding the artist himself, one who unashamedly retells those 'old old stories' from the Biblem in ways that are fresh, artful, and relevant to a contemporary expression of faith.

The World..., Volume 2 restates the project's unifying theme, the simple worship chorus "Step by Step", reworked this time as "Sometimes by Step", with new lyrics forming verses around the now-familiar chorus. It's a quantum leap from the simplicity of the Volume 1 version, where it was sung at first by a child, then by a child-like Mullins. Now the writer is older, presumably wiser, but with seemingly more questions than answers; yet the trusting innocence of the chorus becomes a spiritual compass for this artist's complex journey through the Kingdom of God.

And so it goes throughout most of Volume 2, as Mullins asks tough questions, in songs like "Waiting" and "Growing Young" and returns to Scripture and his personal Ebenezers for reassurance and renewal of his faith ("Everyman," "The Just Shall Live," and, voted least likely to win a Dove Award for song title of the year, "The Maker of Noses").

At times Mullins' love for God (as expressed in his songs) has failed to express love for his fellow man, an all-too-common problem in devotional music, making it so heavenly minded, it's no earthly good, so to speak. Here however, the artist writes with great affection, not only for the biblical characters he calls up ("Everyman"), but also for his co-writer, co-worker, and co-monk-in-disguise Beaker, in "What Susan Said".

Musically, Mullins draws from a slightly more limited pallette than on previous releases, as melody lines start to sound a little too similar at times, and some of them just not catchy enough to stick with you the way they should, but producer Reed Arvin's superb arrangements and Mullins' own vocal work (which has never been better) compensates well for most of ...Volume 2.

One of contemporary Christian music's best writers and thinkers Rich Mullins wraps up his two volume song cycle with the Fanny Crosby hymn, "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" and a reprise of "Step by Step", reminding us of the "plain old truth" that it is us who still seek, he who graciously leads, and we who must follow.

Copyright 1992 by CCM Magazine

Thanks go to Eric Townsend and his webpage,
Rich Mullins: Never Picture Perfect, for sharing this article with COYN.

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