First Decade 1983-1993

Michael W. Smith

Reunion, 1993

http://www.michaelwsmith.com/

REVIEW BY: Elizabeth Crowder

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/12/2008

As a staple in the CCM genre, Michael W. Smith is best known as the writer and composer of songs such as "Friends" and "Place In This World," as well as the praise and worship song "You Are Holy (Prince Of Peace)." Smith has had a diverse career which has spread from 1981 to the present, including his recent Dove Awards tribute that honored his over 25 years in Christian music.

Because of the vast success Smith has experienced, it is difficult to find an album that encompasses most of his hits. The First Decade: 1983-1993 seems to be the most comprehensive of his catalogue, featuring upbeat classics such as "Picture Perfect" alongside the classic "I Will Be Here For You." Newer additions like "This Is Your Time," written to honor Cassie Bernall (the student in the Columbine school shooting who was killed when she said 'Yes' after being asked if she believed in God) are on Smith's my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Second Decade: 1993-2003 album.

While I have long been a fan of Smith, I remember this album more than any other from my youth. The ‘80s sound of "Place In This World" brings back memories of my Walkman and church missions trips, yet the lyrics hit the same place now that they did when I was 15. Any Michael W. Smith fan would know "Go West Young Man," an upbeat track about focusing your life on Christ and not being deterred from the path you are travelling. A lyric like “Why must I wander like a cloud/ Following the crowd/ I don't know” is a sentiment many of us feel daily, and this song encourages strength in whatever way you feel you should be persevering.

This disc also includes "Emily," a song written for Smith’s daughter about recognizing his faith in his "angel waiting for wings." The heart and emotion behind songs like this and "Anna," a track on The Second Decade, written for another of his daughters, show me that Smith is not just playing music for the money. This is a part of who he is as a person, as a man of faith, a husband, and a father.

"Secret Ambition" is a song which I recall being stunned by when it first came out. The beat and the track itself is completely mainstream, while the lyrics speak of how during Jesus' life on earth, no one knew what his 'secret ambition' really was. The First Decade also includes two tracks which had not yet been released: the lighter ballad "Do You Dream Of Me” and “Kentucky Rose.”

On the whole, this album is more than a joy to listen to. While I am one who appreciates most of what contemporary Christian music has to offer, the secular success of Michael W. Smith shows that his music goes beyond his beliefs into something any person could grasp, regardless of what they have faith in.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Elizabeth Crowder and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reunion, and is used for informational purposes only.