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After releasing two albums that focused primarily on justice, mercy, and social commentary, Sara Groves wondered where to turn next for her ninth studio project.

She didn't need to look very far. Encouraged by her record company president, INO's Jeff Moseley, Groves decided to look inward for inspiration for Fireflies & Songs, arguably her most personal project yet.

"As a songwriter," Groves says, "it's easier to step back and take an observer's view, and that's what I had been doing the last couple albums. Of course, I'm in all those songs and they're personal, but I wasn't 'digging in the dirt' for sure. It's hard to do that. It's hard to say, 'Here's my stuff.'"

Perhaps, but this "stuff" earned Fireflies & Songs Groves enough votes from a panel of ten music critics to be named Christianity Today's Album of the Year. It was a runaway winner for first place, beating out other 2009 albums from Switchfoot, Steven Curtis Chapman, Buddy & Julie Miller, Ashley Cleveland, and even U2.

"This is a complete surprise, and I'm deeply grateful," Groves told CT upon hearing the news. "When I'm done with a record, I try to let it go, knowing I have done everything I can do. But at the same time, a record like this is my heart and soul parading around. It feels good to know that it is resonating.

"I know this gospel can square off with any complexity in our culture or relationships, and that brings me a great deal of joy, to look into every corner of life with this worldview."

Groves also gave a nod to INO.

...

See our full review of Fireflies & Songs here, and a recent interview here.

Here are CT's Top 12 Albums of 2009:

Already known for her transparent songwriting, Sara Groves gets even more piercingly honest on this, her ninth album. Whether ...

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