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Where the Past Meets Today

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Album Review

In the early '90s, when Amy Grant sought to cross over from her Contemporary Christian Music roots to a larger audience, she scored great success going the fluffy pop route. Sarah Kelly, whose stellar 2004 debut Take Me Away added a powerful kick to CCM, takes a bigger risk trying to reach beyond the CCM market on her emotionally intense follow-up Where the Past Meets Today. No doubt her Christian fans might balk at her hiring of Mike Clink (Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Megadeth), but he brings out the emotionally honest rocker in her brilliantly — creating shimmering electric guitar beds for lyrics that tap into rich spiritual themes without being preachy or specifically of one religious mindset. Her stated goal here is to find a niche where (CCM legend) Keith Green meets Led Zeppelin, and she succeeds with a mix of searing ballads and tough rockers that find her vocals moving effortlessly from the soaring Ann and Nancy Wilson realm to more subtle emotional moments that show off her immense range. Irresistible, Heart-like pop-rockers like "The Beauty of It All," "Still Breathing" and "What You Leave Behind" make this an exciting ride, but one suspects that Kelly's truest heart (and the vulnerability behind the emerging rocker chick) is revealed on mid-tempo ballads like "About Midnight" and "Fall into You." The emotional centerpiece of the disc is "Out of Reach," which finds her coming to terms with abusive relationships of the past; it's godly and inspirational and perfectly Christian, yet touches on a secular level as well — the ultimate ecumenical healing ballad. This is one of those discs that taps deeper into the listener with each brilliant listen.


Born: Rockford, IL

Genre: Inspirational

Years Active: '00s

Rockford, IL-based CCM singer/songwriter Sarah Kelly began writing songs at the age of seven, many of which found themselves integrated into the services at her local church. Kelly recorded her first album, You Overwhelm Me, independently in 2000, resulting in a deluge of concert requests and label interest. Her gritty voice and bluesy arrangements eventually led her to Gotee, where her 2004 national debut,...
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Where the Past Meets Today, Sarah Kelly
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