Almost There


INO Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp


Everyone is drawn to an album for a different reason. That reason may be anything from appreciating the musical style to the cover art, but something must draw one in for money to leave the wallet. Admittedly, my reason for buying this album had nothing to do with musical or lyrical skill -- I just thought it was cool that the band was from my hometown.

That’s right, the members of MercyMe hail from Greenville, TX, population 24,000. As a matter of fact, my mother played piano for a few of lead singer Bart Millard’s high school choir recitals. So, when I heard that Millard and Co. had hit it big as Christian recording artists, I was off to the CD store.nbtc__dv_250

And, upon listening, I realized that sometimes you can go home.

First off, the single “I Can Only Imagine” is really what this album (and, let’s face it, the band itself) owe their success to. Gentle piano and Millard’s vocals aid the listener in wondering what heaven will be like. The beauty of heaven as described by the song will bring a tear to the eye of any. Though the song has become a cliché in many churches and on Christian radio, nothing rivals the first time one hears it.

Unbeknownst to many, however, is that there are ten other tracks on Almost There, and they’re not bad either.

The opener, “I Worship You,” for example, was my favorite MercyMe song for a long time, until I came to better appreciate “I Can Only Imagine.” It rocks harder than the rest of the songs on the album while still making out as a nice worship tune. The closest the rest of the album comes to rocking like this is on “House Of God,” a song with below average lyrics but a catchy melody.

“Cannot Say Enough” is a beautiful worship song that the band still plays at concerts, even four albums later. Coupled with “All Fall Down,” MercyMe has a duo of ready-for-church tunes, both featuring excellent melodies and messages.

“In You,” the album’s closer, is probably the best evidence of the band’s musical maturity. The song’s structure is more complex than others on this album, starting a capella and moving into a beautiful soft rock piece accompanied by an violins. This song, more than any other on the album, is an indication of what was to come for the band; it best represents the direction the group has taken since this debut disc.

The remainder of Almost There is average, but it’s nonetheless sincere. Millard has an excellent, rich voice, parts country and rock, and he has partnered with very able musicians who help bring the group’s message to the listener.

Whatever reason you try this album, trying it is the important part. You won’t regret the decision.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Daniel Camp 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 INO Records, and is used for informational purposes only.