Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jaime Jamgochian gets above the noise through a strong focus on God


















Above the Noise
Artist: Jaime Jamgochian (www.myspace.com/jaimejamgochian)
Label: Centricity Records (www.centricityrecords.com)
Length: 12 tracks/41:13 minutes

On her third release, Above the Noise, Jamie Jamgochian follows the lead of Martin Luther when he said, “I wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people by means of songs.” She has written or co-written seven of twelve songs, all of which contain numerous allusions to Scripture and God’s character. Part of the value of this type of music is its ability to convey a sense of God’s presence, and this recording succeeds in drawing the listener toward it.

Luther also said, “Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful.” The great reformer could not have envisioned a modern recording like this, but it’s hard not to be encouraged by the bright, clean pop/rock sound and the inspirational lyrics. This might be part of what a good counselor would prescribe for melancholies like me. It’s hard to stay down and not be comforted when you hear something that is so focused on honoring God.

Nathan Nockels (Point of Grace, Matt Redman) produced several of the songs, which occasionally contrast piano balladry with explosive moments of rock. The majority of songs are a pleasant blend of acoustic and electric on mostly mid-tempo songs. The production is excellent. It’s not overdone and stays away from the use of synthesizers giving the music a raw, uncluttered sound. Even so, the polish on these accessible melodies is just right.

Lyrically, it alternates between what you might hear in a contemporary worship setting and the introspection associated with one’s walk in Christ. The latter includes Nichole Nordeman’s poignant “Heal the Wound,” where Jamgochian sings, “Heal the wound, but leave the scar, a reminder of how merciful You are.”

Comparisons are imperfect, but you might liken the music to a combination of Nordeman, Cherri Keaggy and Chris Tomlin. Her voice even sounds a little like these two ladies, especially on the last three tracks, which are worship-oriented and lean toward the singer/songwriter mode.

They include a beautiful rendition of Annie Herring’s “I Stand In Awe.” This is followed by “Renew,” which is a heartfelt prayer for God to renew His people, His promise and our own hearts. The last track is simply gorgeous with just piano accompaniment. The main thought is: “My worship is the life I live.”

Some may discount the value of so-called praise and worship recordings. They might do well to consider that such a recording can inspire people to personally engage God in this manner. That’s no small thing, as J. H. Jowett writes, “Without praise many other virtues and graces cannot be born. Without praise they have no breath of life. Praise quickens a radiant company of heavenly presences, and among them is the shining spirit of hope.” This recording could be the garden that helps virtues like faith, hope and love to grow.
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