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- Introduction -
Brian Littrell is well known as being one of the Backstreet Boys, one of the biggest selling boy bands of the 1990s.
Anyone who has been a fan of his or has read many interviews with him from the start, will be aware that his faith is pretty important to him and plays a big part in his life. When asked what he might have been, had he not become a member of the group, he has often said that he would have gone on to become a youth minister or something similar and he has also stated from early on that if he were to do a solo project, it would likely involve his faith and that he would like to make an accessible records that would hopefully bring religion and faith to perhaps non religious people, such as some Backstreet Boys fans.
Brians first solo album, entitled Welcome Home, was finally released in the US in 2006. It features the single Welcome Home (You) and is, obviously, a pop/Christian record. It seems to only be available on import from the US, through Sony BMG, Provident label group and Provident Integrity distribution. You can purchase it as an import on amazon.co.uk or even better, at the time of this review (July 2008), I found it available on Play.com for the very cheap price of £6.99 with free delivery, which is a good deal.
I've also heard that you can buy signed copies through the website for his charity, called the Brian Littrell Healthy Heart club for Kids, or HHC.
- Track Listing -
1 - My Answer Is You - This track talks about his pride and faith in God and how other people, who dont share that, won't fully understand it but his faith is strong. Sample lyrics include
"My answer is You
My answer is You
You're the hope that my heart is holding on to
Skeptics won't understand
It's strange from the world's point of view
My answer is You"
2 - Wish - In this track, Brian sings about how he wishes that he had been there to see Jesus as a child and growing up and questions what it would have been like. Sample lyrics include
"for just a moment
i wish i could have been there
to see your first step, hear your very first word
tell me, did you ever fall and scrape your knee?
did you know your wounds would one day heal the world?"
3 - Welcome Home (You) - This is the most well known track on the album, in terms of it having an official video and being a single, as well as the fact that Brian has sung it solo during the Backstreet Boys Unbreakable world tour. This track is a more upbeat track, with a faster beat to it, than other tracks on the album and it talks about peoples hesitations and worries for him, when he first left home to be a member of the group and then talks in part of his pride in being a father and how he loves him and he speaks of his relationship with Jesus and how he believes he will be welcomed home when he passes.
Sample lyrics include
"Welcome home you
I know you by name
How do you do
I shine because of you today
So come and sit down
Tell me how you are
I know son, it's good to just see your face"
4 - You Keep Givin' Me - This is a slower track, although all the tracks are fairly slow, this one is particularly slow and it talks of all the blessings and love he feels he gets from his faith. Sample lyrics include
"You keep giving me joy
You keep giving me happiness
You keep giving me Hope
You keep giving me everything I wish
You keep holding me up
When I'm about to fall
And even if all of that was not enough
you keep giving me love (keep giving me love)"
5 - Gone Without Goodbye - If your anything like me, you'll need to have tissues on hand to listen to this track, as it is rather moving and talks of the loss of different people, who die in accidents and the parents who are left without their children, without being given a chance to say goodbye. One of the people mentioned is supposed to be a victim of 9/11 too, the one mentioned here "this is his pregnant wife, Carrying his last dream He walked down 46 floors before he felt the rush, The rush of gasoline". There is an acoustic guitar played throughout the track too, giving it a bit of a country sound. Some extra sample lyrics include
"Though I can feel the pain
Look into his eyes
But I don't know gone without good-bye
If I could reach the sky I'd bring her right back to your arms
Though I haven't seen your girl, she's forever in my life"
6 - I'm Alive - This is, along with Welcome Home (You), one of the more upbeat tracks, with a fairly heavy drum presence in the background and it also showcases Brians higher vocal range quite well. It talks of how he's alive thanks to the sacrifice of Christ. Sample lyrics include
"This heart inside me beats because
You loved enough to take my cross
You gave Your life to shatter death
So even after my last breath
7 - Over My Head - This is one of my favourite tracks off the album. Its got a nice slow rhythm, with a piano playing in the background. Its quite understated and its quite a catchy tune too. In this track, he talks of what its like for him, how he feels that he's 'over his head' and right where he wants to be, in a relationship with God. Sample lyrics include
"I'm in over my head
Right where I wanna be
I'm so lost within Your love
The love that always covers me
So high, so deep, so wide
A strong and cleansing tide
My soul has found a place to rest
I'm in over my head"
The track does pick up a little, speed/tempo wise, towards the end.
8 - We Lift You Up - This track has more of a Gospel sound to it than others, with a choir/backing singers in the background. He talks of how he's been blessed by God and obviously talks of how why he/they praise him for this. Sample lyrics include
"We lift You up
Higher than the heavens
We lift You up (because Your love is)
Deeper than the deepest sea
We lift You up
Higher than the mountains
We lift You up
He died for you and me"
9 - Grace Of My Life - This song is dedicated to his wife, Leighanne and features piano and guitar in the background. This is another slow and rather understated track, where Brian talks about how he thinks of the way he's been blessed and he speaks to his wife, who is the grace of his life. Sample lyrics include
"You are the grace of my life
So tender, so undeserved
Hard to believe you're my wife
Even harder to put what I feel into words
If I need evidence God is good
Just looking at you is enough
You are the grace of my life
For you grace my life with your love"
10 - Angels and Heroes - This is another of my favourite tracks, next to 'Over My Head'. It also features quite an acoustic feel to it, with piano in the background again. Its quite upbeat and jolly and it has a nice message to it, that being that we're all angels and heroes at heart and that if we open our hearts, minds and eyes, then God will come to us. Again, his vocal range is shown off pretty well here, its slightly more midtempo too and has a nice beat to it. Some sample lyrics include
"We don't need wings to be angels
We don't need reasons to be right
Your love makes us all better
Thats who we really are
We don't need sleep to be dreamers
We don't need to have tears in our eyes
Your love makes us all better
That is who we really are
Angels and heroes at heart"
11 - Jesus Loves You - This is, as you can probably tell from the track name, the most 'heavy' track, in term of religious lyrical content, I feel. It features Brians son, Baylee (who was, at the time of recording the track, 3 years old), who enthusiastically says "I wanna hear Jesus Loves You daddy' and counts him in '1, 2, 3'. There are backing singers to accompany Brian on this track and it basically involes the title being repeated often with some statements inbetween about what Jesus has done for mankind etc. sample lyrics include
"Said He's the One that died for me
Jesus loves you!
And that's the reason I believe
Jesus loves you!
And He has done the same for you
Jesus loves you!
So watch and see what He can do"
- Other Info. -
Brian has written, or co-written, most of these tracks, infact he's the
executive producer of the album, along with Terry Hemmings. Other producers who worked on the album include Dan Muckala (who has written some of the Backstreet Boys more recent songs), Billy Mann, David Thomas and Mark Kibble.
His solo work has been generally welcomed by the American Christian music world and he's already won Dove awards (which are awards given to Christian music artists) for his work.
Brian has mentioned in the Backstreet Boys chat, when he's been in there recently, names of a few new tracks and he claimed that we might hear some new solo material in fall (autumn), so he's already working on the follow up to this album, which he claimed he's thinking of naming 'Believe'.
For BSB fans, you might like to know that fellow member AJ has also worked on a solo album, which should be released, hopefully, by the end of the year, though that definitely won't be of the Christian music genre!
- Official Websites - Where you can hear audio clips -
If your interested to find out more and want a look at the relevant official sites for this album, then check out Brians official website at http://www.brianlittrell.com/ on this site, you can launch an audio player, where you can hear clips from each of the tracks.
Also, this is the official website for the main record label that this album is released through, Reunion Records, see http://www.reunionrecords.com/ (look under 'artists' for Brians page within the site).
There's quite alot of content on both sites, so their worth checking out if your interested and they both appear to have newsletters you can sign up to, if you want to receive news about his solo work.
- What do I think? -
Well this is obviously not the sort of record or album that is going to appeal to everyone. If your a fan of Brian and you are a Christian or have such beliefs, then it shouldn't cause any problems but I do know there are Backstreet Boys fans and even fans of Brian, who have chosen not to listen to the album, due to not feeling comfortable about the lyrics.
While its clear that there is religious content in the tracks, more in some than others (like the last track), I don't feel that, overall, it is an entirely preach-y album, in that I didn't feel as if I was being forced to share his same beliefs. To me, its a very personal album for Brian, that he has waited years to make and to share with the fans and where he can finally share some of his love and appreciation for the faith that he feels has got him through some pretty tough times (he had heart problems and nearly died as a young boy, for example). Personally, I'm quite an open minded person and was curious to hear his solo work, I have always enjoyed listening to his voice, which I find quite calming and soothing anyway, so I wanted to give this album a shot, though I also admit that I have never specifically listened to Christian music before.
I think that it is a pretty good album, some tracks I like more than others, my favourites being 'Welcome Home (You)', 'Angels and Heroes' and 'Over My Head'. I may not be somebody who visits church but I don't feel as if this means that I can't listen to such music once in a while. Indeed, I originally bought and listened to this album on its initial release in 2006, then kind of forgot about it, until just before I was going to meet him with the rest of the Backstreet Boys during their UK tour in May this year, when I decided to listen to listen to it again on my MP3 player. I had forgotten that it is as listenable as it is really. I think he's done quite well at making such material that shouldn't scare off those of us who aren't too strongly linked to a particular faith, I know that was partly an aim of his, to make music that is still quite pop like, so as not to scare more people away and to make Christian music more accessible to some and I think he has been fairly successful in that. Its a bit of a shame that for some people, they'll see the genre as Christian music and think automatically that it'll be full of over the top content that won't be for them and so they don't give it a try. On the other hand, of course for people with differing beliefs and what not, it won't be for them, it just depends.
Personally, I think for a debut album of this type, its certainly not bad and I like how catchy some of the tunes are. The acoustic sound is quite nice and it showcases Brians vocal range quite well too, I feel. I think you can hear through the lyrics and the vocals that he really believes what he's singing and you can tell it is very personal, the material, so its nice to know that he got to work on the kind of music that means the most to him, after so many years of being with the group (not that it means he doesn't care about the group or wants to leave him, thats not true but hopefully you know what I mean, its a different thing).
I would say that its worth giving a shot, if your not sure about it then try accessing the sites mentioned above and check out the sound clips. I quite enjoy this album, I think the only downside I would say, other than the obvious fact that some people will be put off by the genre, is that some of the tracks aren't as memorable as others and you may not remember them so much after listening to the album. I feel that some of the tracks are a bit 'filler' perhaps, at the worst (ie they aren't quite as catchy or thought provoking as others) but I would still give it a listen.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 My Answer Is You
3 Welcome Home (You)
4 You Keep Givin' Me
5 Gone Without Goodbye
6 I'm Alive
7 Over My Head
8 We Lift You Up
9 Grace Of My Life
10 Angels And Heroes
11 Jesus Loves You