John Tesh

The Power of Love, Vol. 1

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It's way too hip for music reviewers to bash John Tesh simply because he's John Tesh, and a two-disc piano and orchestra rendering of 24 hit pop, Christian, and new age classics and two originals can easily bring out the wolves who want to snore and scream, "Muzak!" So let's acknowledge the bashability factor, but just try to appreciate this often beautiful double recording on its own terms. It's not groundbreaking, but it's truly crowd-pleasing, and that -- combined with great musicianship and simple yet effective arrangements -- is what a Tesh recording is all about. There are a few quiet passages but also a good deal of orchestral drama on pieces like "Song for Jennifer," the exotic, flute-driven "Desert Rose," and the sexy, Latin-breezing Kenny G tune "Havana." Tesh chooses interesting tunes in that he goes for more than the overplayed Top 40. The catalogs mined include an eclectic mix -- Steven Curtis Chapman, Yanni, Kitaro, Mannheim Steamroller, Jim Brickman, Enya, Loreena McKennitt, and George Winston. Gosh, Tesh doing Yanni, Winston, and Kenny G? The fun the critics will have! Tesh had to be winking at them as he was doing this. But the diversity is a definite progression from some of his other cover collections, which just include the tried and true. More importantly, his fans will be pleased, and it's likely that his detractors would smile here and there if they didn't know it was him. Wouldn't it be fun to win them over and then see how they react when they learn it's Tesh? The guy knows what his audience wants, is honest about it, and keeps on delivering. Darn listenable stuff sometimes, too.

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