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Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | Five gospel-friendly albums by non-contemporary Christian music performers

FROM THE FIVE

STYLE Roots rock, blue-eyed R&B.

WORLDVIEW "If you stumble / and you fall, / you might lose your will to fight. / But conquer self / and you can conquer all / if you walk by faith, not by sight" ("Walk by Faith").

OVERALL QUALITY Of a piece with the late-'70s/early-'80s gospel rock recorded by Bob Dylan and T-Bone Burnett, both of whom employed Mr. Bruton during his years as a guitarist for hire.

NOW THE DAY IS OVER

STYLE Lullaby-quiet renditions of show tunes, classical melodies, and "It Is Well with My Soul."

WORLDVIEW That there's no such thing as one too many versions of "Over the Rainbow," "Moon River," "Edelweiss," or Chopin's "Prelude in A" when the settings are as hushed and lovely as those of this devoutly Catholic indie-pop trio.

OVERALL QUALITY The ideal context for Karen Peris's eerie little-girl voice and idiosyncratic enunciation.

SACRED

STYLE Operatic voices, Christian-hymnal favorites (and some that might be someday).

WORLDVIEW That there's no such thing as one too many versions of "Amazing Grace," "Be Thou My Vision," or "Morning Has Broken" when the singers are as talented as Anthony Kearns, John McDermott, and Finbar Wright.

OVERALL QUALITY It's a relief to discover that the departure of Ronan Tynan has not dulled the sparkle of this deservedly popular trio.

THE REAL DEAL

STYLE Honky-tonk country

WORLDVIEW Women, you can't live with them ("There's No Fool like an Old Fool," "Livin' a Lovin' Lie," "It Just Ain't There for Me No More") and you can't live without them ("Valentine," "West Texas Waltz") or Jesus ("Jesus Christ Is Still the King," "Live Forever," "Try and Try Again").

OVERALL QUALITY At 66, Mr. Shaver finally may have become the best interpreter of his own songs.

SOULS' CHAPEL

In the late '80s and early '90s, heavy-metal-loving Christians pointed to King's X as a model of how to attract secular audiences and inspire positive mainstream reviews while recording Christian music for a major label. The band members themselves, however, rejected the "Christian music" tag, seeing it as both an inadequate description of their songs and a hindrance to potential fans. They eventually escaped the Christian spotlight altogether when signs of spiritual ambiguity-profanity included-began appearing on their albums.

On Ogre Tones (SPV/Inside Out), the ambiguity-and, on "Get Away," the profanity-persists. The group's Christian fans will nevertheless note that Doug Pinnick's angry insistence in "Get Away" that God explain the suffering of the innocent and the prospering of the wicked has the complaints of David and Job as precedents. And Ty Tabor's "Freedom," which laments America's confusion of liberty with license and cites abortion and homosexuality as examples, is not ambiguous at all.

In the spotlight

In the late '80s and early '90s, heavy-metal-loving Christians pointed to King's X as a model of how to attract secular audiences and inspire positive mainstream reviews while recording Christian music for a major label. The band members themselves, however, rejected the "Christian music" tag, seeing it as both an inadequate description of their songs and a hindrance to potential fans. They eventually escaped the Christian spotlight altogether when signs of spiritual ambiguity-profanity included-began appearing on their albums.

On Ogre Tones (SPV/Inside Out), the ambiguity-and, on "Get Away," the profanity-persists. The group's Christian fans will nevertheless note that Doug Pinnick's angry insistence in "Get Away" that God explain the suffering of the innocent and the prospering of the wicked has the complaints of David and Job as precedents. And Ty Tabor's "Freedom," which laments America's confusion of liberty with license and cites abortion and homosexuality as examples, is not ambiguous at all.

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