Sounds like … eclectic pop/rock, soul, and jazz resembling the work of Matt Wertz, John Mayer, Warren Barfield, Chris Rice, and Brandon Heath

At a glance … Dave Barnes confirms his natural gifts for accessible songwriting, eclectic styles, and relatable Christian themes on his third album and national debut, Me + You + the World

By now I would hope it apparent that not all Christian musicians record exclusively for the Christian music industry, and as independent music continues to blur the lines between Christian and mainstream, more and more are artists are able to pursue careers whether they feel called to reach the church or the culture at large. Case in point, Dave Barnes, a believer who is also pals with Matt Wertz and Mat Kearney, making local fans out of Vince Gill and Amy Grant (who guest on his second album).

The Christian industry connections don't end there—Me + You + the World, Barnes' national debut through Razor & Tie Entertainment, was produced by none other than Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Bethany Dillon). And though the album isn't as openly evangelical or worshipful as projects by Warren Barfield or Brandon Heath, this singer/songwriter doesn't merely settle for a series of secular love songs either (though "Since You Said I Do" is a sweet ode to his wife).

With the funky "Brothers & Sisters," Barnes sings about changing the world by loving others, and challenges us to feed the hungry in "10,000 Children," which offers the insightful lyric, "Prayers and money should not be confused/But I pray that both are still used." His tender acoustic ballad "Believe" wishes for a friend's faith to remain strong, while "Carry Me Through" is straight up hand-clapping gospel ("Lord be gentle, cause I'm just a man/Please don't crush me with your heavenly hands/Oh Lord, remember, I try so hard/And I'm walking toward the Kingdom, Lord").

Barnes is just as eclectic with his styles as he is with his subjects. This is not your typical coffeehouse crooner with a guitar. "Since You Said I Do" echoes the bluesy pop of John Mayer (another fan of Barnes' work), and the exquisite pop of "Until You" is already a crowd favorite as well as a natural radio single. Later, "Good World Gone Bad" dabbles with country, "Nothing Else" embraces old-school soul, and "Someday" (performed with Gabe Dixon Band) has a jazzy sound resembling Steely Dan.

It helps that every song on this disc lives and breathes on its own—there aren't too many albums nowadays where you can fall in love with every track. Already a favorite on the college circuit, expect Barnes' popularity to grow with Me + You + the World, using simple but approachable pop to relate his worldview.

Me + You + The World
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
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Release Date
April 1, 2008
Concord Music Group
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