When I first heard about this one, I instantly thought: "Another marketing ploy to take advantage of Mullins' death." Was I wrong? Read on...
There are two features of this album that make it really stand out from other multi-artist collections. The first is that each artist participating got to pick which song they wanted to do, and each of them gets an extensive section in the liner notes to explain their choice and why and how they did their version of it. The second is the extremely appropriate choice of Reed Arvin (long-time Mullins producer) to produce every song on the album.
One of the highlights of the album definitely comes at the very beginning. Michael W. Smith's faithful yet new version of Awesome God is a terrific, soaring anthem; everything you'd expect from Smitty. Next, Carolyn Arends (who was once called the female Rich Mullins) provides a simple version of Jacob & 2 Women, which is much like Mullins himself might have sung it. It's a nice re-do, but nothing particularly outstanding.
Billy Crockett offers another highlight with his typical virtuoso performance of Verge of a Miracle. I have a feeling that Mullins would have loved this one. Hold Me Jesus comes from a slightly surprising source: none other than Amy Grant. I would have thought Phil Keaggy would get this one, after his touching performance at this year's Doves. But regardless, Amy's version is quite effective. This one sounds like it could have come straight off of Behind the Eyes.
Chris Rice is up next with a somewhat less-known Mullins tune, Calling Out Your Name. It somehow seems fitting that Rice would pick a song that doesn't stand out in the mind over many of the other songs on this album, and then make it shine. Another highlight of the album, with a welcome break from the never-ending ballads. Likewise, another upbeat moment comes from Elijah, by Gary Chapman.
Another timeless classic, If I Stand is done by Jars of Clay. The liner notes tell that they chose not to do this song in their usual style, but "just four men echoing [Mullins'] prayer." The result is a very similar version to Mullins' original. Billy Sprague provides a truly new version of A Place to Stand, that proves quite enjoyable.
Rounding things out, we've got Kevin Smith on an ethereal Save Me, Ashley Cleveland on a stripped-down I See You, and Caedmon's Call on the appropriate closer, Step By Step.
Listening to this incredible collection, one is reminded of just how many incredible songs Mullins left us with. So the answer to the above question is, yes, I was definitely wrong. The singers were all perfect choices to pay tribute to Mullins' life and music, and the music itself is an amazing collection of the legacy of Rich Mullins.
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