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Do You See What I See?

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Todd Agnew/Friends 10/3/2006

Review

Todd Agnew is, almost certainly, a great guy and is clearly a very devout Christian, and the idea behind this album has a lot to recommend it: he's taken characters from the Biblical Christmas story and written songs from each of their various perspectives: one in the voice of the innkeeper who denied Mary and Joseph a room; one in the voice of Simeon, announcing Christ's birth to those around him; one in the voice of Joseph singing to the baby; and even an adaptation of the traditional "Magnificat" text, in which Mary responds joyfully to her Annunciation. The problem, though, is that all of this content rarely works well in the context of modern pop music, and Agnew's album is no exception to that general rule. There's an awkward fit between the exalted and transcendent sentiments being expressed by these characters and the mundane pop music in which those sentiments are set here. When Agnew tries to make the music match the words, he often overshoots -- as on his egregiously overblown arrangement of "Do You Hear What I Hear," a song that works best when sung in a tone of quiet wonder rather than in a chesty roar with a bombastic orchestral backing. And although his "Magnificat" is really quite pretty, it's hard not to compare it to the many vastly superior settings that text has had in the past. "Sleep Well" and "Bethlehem Dawn" are both very lovely and well conceived. But unfortunately, they're the exception on this disappointing album. ~ Rick Anderson
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Do You Hear What I Hear? (Prelude) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:53
  3. 2 No Room (The Innkeeper) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:57
  4. 3 This Is All I Have to Give (Joseph) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:47
  5. 4 Magnificat (Mary) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:58
  6. 5 Did You Know? (Song to Jesus) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:29
  7. 6 Sleep Well (Elizabeth's Lullaby) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:34
  8. 7 He Is Called Jesus (Simeon) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:38
  9. 8 God with Us (The Magi) Todd Agnew/Friends 5:14
  10. 9 Glory to God (The Angels) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:55
  11. 10 Bethlehem Dawn (The Shepherds) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:39
  12. 11 In the First Light (Postlude) Todd Agnew/Friends 4:49

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