What Kind Of Love

Margaret Becker

Sparrow Records, 1999

http://www.margaretbecker.com

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/31/1999

Over the past 12 years, Margaret Becker has recorded 10 remarkable albums. Generally in a career of that length there's been at least one clunker. Not for Becker. Not only has each album built upon the success of the next, but she's never been afraid to mix and match styles and genres as desired.

For What Kind Of Love, Becker has taken elements from the success of her last two albums, 1998's Falling Forward (orchestrations) and 1995's Grace (synth-pop) and combined them in new, exciting, and arresting ways. When was the last time you put in a new disc and found yourself unable to go about your normal daily routine because the sounds, textures, and words of the songs playing had you entranced?

Such an album is What Kind Of Love.

Allowing for Becker's songwriting and singing talents, much of the credit for the auditory pleasures of this release, must go to producer Tedd Tjornhom, who came on board to shake things up with Falling Forward and thankfully has stuck around for the follow up. Tjornhom has deepened, and simplified, Becker's sound - while adding new sounds and textures she never tried before.

And Becker's voice, always an otherworldly, earthy, and sensuous pleasure, absolutely captivates. Her singing is as assured as I've ever heard her, but more than that, it's authoritative in way that's non-demanding. She doesn't have to sing with authority - she simply has it.

In "Friend For Life" Becker sings to a friend in crisis that she wants to introduce her to someone who will be a "friend for life."

"I want to be the one to tell you/To tell it like it is/To let you know the God of love will never leave your side."

But, the song realizes that a relationship with God cannot be forced and the friend in pain is assured that belief in God is not a prerequisite of the friendship continuing.

"I don't want to force you to have faith/And you know no matter what you do/I'm gonna love you anyway/The only thing that matters/Is that you know you're not alone/'Cause Love will stay here with you/Long after I'm gone"

The theme of the disc is finding the treasures in the darkness as described in Isaiah 45:3. In other words, finding the good that comes out of the suffering we encounter in our lives. Becker calls the project "an upbeat album about suffering."my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Margaret Becker, the songwriter, has also matured over the last decade or so. Whether writing alone or co-writing with the likes of Chris Eaton, Robbie Nevil, and Lowell Alexander, Becker takes reality and infuses it with spirituality in a way many Christian songwriters can't - or won't.

What do I mean? In the title song, Becker writes, with Eaton, about the marvel that the God of Heaven would choose the human heart as His habitation - the same heart that scorned and murdered His son.

"I'll spend my lifetime wondering why/The beauty of heaven chose here in my heart/To pour out His perfect gift/What kind of love is this?/The beauty of heaven would pierce His own heart to give me this perfect gift."

The song is enhanced by the jazzy feel of the keyboards (Byron Hagan) that run in and out of the song.

The song that best expresses the theme of "treasures in the darkness" is the gorgeous ballad "I Won't Be Persuaded." Written with Henk Pool, this song admits that humans cannot always make sense out of why God, who could make all the hurt and suffering in our lives stop, doesn't. Why does He allow suffering when He could take it away?

The song offers no answers to that question other than faith -- faith in the One who has brought you through so many other difficulties -- but faith is the only answer.

"Sometimes I'm lost/In the land of questioning/And I rub together timeless truths/Like flint and stone in the rain/And I don't understand where You are in all this/Still I wait and hope and pray and wish."

That's a lyric about suffering.

The answer, if we can have one, is provided in the very next song, "Love By Your Side." Sung from God's point of view, the song asks the listener if they really want to know God because if they do, He is always right there with them - even in the midst of suffering.

"All this time I've been waiting/I've been waiting in the wings/Hoping you would look at Me and let Me in because/All your life/I wanna be the one you run to/I wanna stand by you/In everything you go through, tell me/What will it take until you believe in Me?/'Cause I'm hoping that you'll look My way."

It's always tricky to try to write a song from God's point of view - kind of presumptuous if you know what I mean - but this simple mid-tempo pop song seems to capture the care, love, and concern of God tempered with His insistence that He will not force a relationship.

"If you wanna feel love by your side/If you're looking for someone you never seem to find/Turn around and look in My eyes/'Cause I've always been right here by your side."

Wow. If we can hang on to that thought with all the faith we have, however much that is, what a comfort it can be. Even - and especially - when we don't see Him, God is right there if we just look for Him.

Other highlights:

· A remake of the Staples Singers song, "Hope In A Hopeless World" that grooves righteously

· "One More Reason" written with Nevil, which is a straight-ahead pop song written as a love song to God.

· "All That's Left" about being willing to be completely broken in order to move closer to Christ's side.

Becker is as fresh a voice in the CCM industry now as she was 12 years ago when she first appeared on the scene with her rock-oriented Never For Nothing. The fact that Never For Nothing is still a great listen, even though Becker has moved far from that initial rock and roll posture, only makes the accomplishment of What Kind Of Love seem all the more significant.

Rating: A

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© 1999 Michael Ehret 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 Sparrow Records, and is used for informational purposes only.