Various Artists

Roaring Lambs

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This gathering of Christian rockers was inspired by a book written in 1993 by businessman and entertainment figure Bob Briner in which he challenged his fellow believers to get out of their self-built ghettos and make more of an impact on the cultural world at large. A number of musicians took his message to heart, and the result has been an increasingly high profile among Christian musicians in the pop world; bands like Sixpence None the Richer and Jars of Clay have had honest-to-goodness pop hits, while Michael W. Smith, Over the Rhine, and Deliriou5? have built strong cult followings of their own. Not all of these artists have generally worn their beliefs on their sleeves, but for all of them Christian belief is central to their artistic endeavors. Roaring Lambs is a very impressive collection of songs by quite a varied group of musicians: Ashley Cleveland and Michael Tait deliver the grittily soulful "Salt and Light," Squint boss Steve Taylor alternates between crunchy guitar rock and a piano-driven Broadway sound on "Shortstop," Deliriou5? does its normal alterna-pop catharsis thing on "Touch," and Sixpence None the Richer closes the album with the sort of gauzy, swoony loveliness listeners have all come to expect from them. There are a couple of missteps here -- PFR's "Kingdom Come" is just a bit on the syrupy side, and on the evidence of their contribution, Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love have a Bruce Springsteen jones a mile wide that needs to be tamed -- but for the most part this is a very impressive collection.

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