Michael W. Smith, Glory
Michael W. Smith has long reigned supreme at Christian pop radio, amassing 33 No. 1 hits, as well as garnering success at mainstream AC radio. However, Smith emphasized his acute skills as a gifted pianist and classical musician on 2000’s Freedom, which went on to obtain Gold status. Now, Glory is Smith’s follow-up to the popular classical undertaking and his 23rd studio project.
Glory is as sentimental as it is patriotic and boasts a collection of instrumental soundscapes that honor family, God and country. The majestic symphony was conducted by David Hamilton and recorded in England with a 71-piece orchestra. The title track sets the tone for the album in radiant fashion detailing an epic journey and eliciting a dozen different emotions in one overture that’s full and bursting with possibility.
“The Patriot” and “Heroes” follow paying tribute to the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers. The resounding compositions, full of cymbals, flutes and a variety of other woodwinds, conjure up images of extremes—the harsh realities of war and the sweet joy of homecoming. “Tribute” is also a testament to Smith’s unwavering patriotic support. The song was originally written to honor the sixtieth anniversary of President George and Barbara Bush and first performed for them by Smith at the White House. It fits in seamlessly with the rest of the album.
In addition to honoring the red, white and blue, several songs on Glory are dedicated to family. Specifically, “Whitaker’s Wonder,” is a whimsical piece written for one of Smith’s grandsons. With a melody reminiscent of an outtake from The Nutcracker, it explores a child’s fairytale world, complete with dream-like toy soldiers and sugar plum fairies.
The sweet, sweeping orchestration of “The Romance” and “Forever” were written for Smith’s wife of 30 years, Debbie.
And without fail, Smith’s faith shines through brightly even in these pure, melodious arrangements. “Joy Follows Suffering,” “Glory Battle,” “Atonement” and “Redemption” take the listener on a spiritual journey of undeniable transformation. The album closes with a fitting larger-than-life version of “Agnus Dei,” bursting forth with wordless praise.
The legendary music veteran shows that his composition and piano performance skills are even more developed than his pop sensibilities (no small feat), and his ear for melodies is uncanny. With Glory, Smith proves you don’t need words for music to be a spiritual experience.
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