Prime Cuts: God Leads His Children Along, Hello Grace, Shall We Gather at the River/The Water is Wide
Overall Grade: 4/5
Selah has been around since 1997. For most of their career, they have had been recording for Curb Records. Together the trio have produced top 5 hits such as "You Raise Me Up" and "Bless the Broken Heart" as well as top 40 singles such as "I Turn to You," "You Amaze Us," "I Got Saved" and others. However, after 20 years, they have finally left Curb Records. Last year, they signed a one-off album deal with Integrity Music which accumulated for them two more GMA Dove awards. Now, they have started their own imprint and "Step into My Story" is the result.
While their previous album "Firm Foundation" was a purely worship album, "Step into My Story" finds the trio returning to their roots of pop/folk CCM. Allan Hall begins the proceedings with a spine-chilling acapella take of "God Leads His Children Along." Hall who has a penchant for the more acoustic/country side of CCM really excels in such a stripped-down offering. He does it again with the album closer "Shall We Gather at the River/The Water is Wide." Both songs, which bookend the album, are worthy of every cent you pay for this record.
Todd Smith handles the poppier side of the album as he takes the lead on the current single "Hello, Grace." The single dodges all the cliches often associated with the theme of grace. Rather, what we get is a gorgeous ballad making grace sounds so palatable and so refreshing again. Though "When They Hear It" tilts towards the over-produced side, the song is a wonderful exposition of the power of the Gospel. The title cut "Step into My Story," which finds Amy Hall on lead vocals, is a typical Selah uptempo pop with a catchy melody to boot.
However, with 6 out of the 10 cuts being covers, the album suffers from a dire lack of originality. For whatever reason, the trio decides to tackle three hymns. Though they have had the tradition of tackling older hymns, three is just a tad too many. Further, do you really need another cover of "He Leadeth Me"or "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" or "Nothing But the Blood"? Amy Hall also tackles Phil Wickham's "The Living Hope," which is okay. But nested in such a galore of hymns, the cover becomes excessive.
Though "Step into My Story" may be contrived by the overabundance of covers, but it is still a nice return to form for Selah. If you like their brand of CCM pop mixed with a few more rootsy excursions, this album will be up your alley.