The first and last thing one hears in Fortunate Fall -- Audrey Assad's third album and first as an indie -- is what sounds like a heartbeat. A heart's devotion to Christ's sacred heart is a thread that runs through each of Assad's efforts, but nowhere so prevalent as here, a demure but deeply affecting collection of psalm-like praise, prayers, and liturgies, in the vein of early Nichole Nordeman and Sarah McLachlan. It's a thematic disc, based on the premise of St. Augustine's writings on the fall of Adam, which teach that only so great an evil could merit so great a Redeemer. A weighty and uneasy subject -- far weightier than what the Christian music bubble can hold -- so it is beneficial that Assad goes it alone, with the help of a few good fans who rallied around her vision and crowdfunded the project. The autonomy allows the songstress to approach her theme with not only restraint and reverence, but with joy and jubilation, sometimes in the course of the same song. In "Humble," for example, Assad uses simple imagery to ponder the depth and gravity of the Incarnation, but it's an anthem in feel and structure, meant to uplift as it praises God incarnate. The piano-based "You Speak" and "Good to Me," for their part, begin tenderly, as if they were pages from Assad's prayer journal, but the whispers soon grow to corporate hymns of devotion, meant to be sung at the top of one's lungs. Other moments in Fortunate Fall are chiefly for personal reflection ("I Shall Not Want," "Lead, Kindly Light") or liturgy ("Felix Culpa," "Spirit of the Living God"), but that doesn't mean they're any less moving; they simply require listeners to lean in and let themselves be moved. That's perhaps the only fault to find with Fortunate Fall: its songs may demand as much heart, mind, and soul to fully appreciate as it took Assad to create them. And in a day and age when worship and meditation are often afterthoughts or given no thought at all, that may be precisely the kind of songbook the heart longs for.
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AllMusic Review by Andree Farias