Self-titled releases tend to make a statement of some sort, whether you're a newcomer, a veteran, or just a has-been gunning for a second chance. In the case of Christian pop troubadour Bebo Norman, his self-titled debut for BEC Recordings is none of the above. Instead, Bebo Norman is a collection of anthems, introspection, and commentary that bridge the singer/songwriter's collegiate folk past with his latter-day adult contemporary glories. While pop choruses slowly became a requirement during his previous major-label tenure, here the huge refrains appear effortless, almost as if Norman has learned to internalize and make his own the fact that his thoughtful take on the Christian experience merits exposure beyond the coffeehouse. Songs like "Pull Me Out," "Never Saw You Coming," and "The Only Hope" are as grand and populist as Norman has ever gotten, but they're written from a place of brokenness and inadequacy, looking to God not as a means to an end but as the end itself. In a nod to his humble beginnings, Norman goes the folk-pop route in almost equal measure ("A Million Raindrops," "Not Living in the In-Between"), and the style comes to him with great ease. Of these, the left-field stunner is "Britney," a poignant, heartfelt ode to the teen pop superstar that also serves as a sharp analysis of culture's make-or-break treatment of celebrities. Bebo Norman is indeed the portrait of an older, wiser, and more self-assured Norman -- someone who is blessed to make faith-based music out of the abundance of his heart rather than out of the stringent demands of the CCM machine.
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AllMusic Review by Andree Farias