Style: Adult contemporary worship; compare to Amy Grant, Avalon, Sandi Patti

Top tracks: "What Sort of Song?", "Simeon's Song," "The Bridge"

Michael Card the theologian is on full display on his latest original studio recording, as he explores the deep doctrinal issues of the Gospel of Luke. On "What Sort of Song?", he touches on the contradiction of the newborn Christ having one foot in the grave. On another, he sings about Simeon finally realizing his lifelong dream. The music sounds a bit dated and, especially on the closing tracks, too similar to his most beloved songs. But the writing is detailed enough and Card has the vocal chops to make this album one of his best in recent years.

In some ways, Card's original Christian contemporary recordings three decades ago sounded like Broadway musicals—something akin to Phantom of the Opera. He sings with bravado and lingers on each note. Musically, Luke sounds like vintage CCM where the guitar segues into an unexpected (and somewhat goofy) mid-point solo. Or, the intros match up so well with "El Shaddai"—which he wrote for Amy Grant in 1982—you wonder if Grant herself will start singing.

Card, like John Michael Talbot, can still make this work. At 53, he can do a long instrumental part (on "A Little Boy Lost") or pronounce Israel (on "Simeon's Song") in that old-world "Is-riy-all" way and not make you chuckle. Depending on your age, the music is either a brand new Celtic anomaly or wonderfully reminiscent.

Lyrically, Card has always been a deep well. The Luke CD is actually a companion to a book called Luke: The Gospel of Amazement, and both releases were meticulously researched. In the book, Card notes that Luke spends 14 chapters covering Christ's journey to Jerusalem (Matthew only spent a couple of chapters on that), and that Luke may have been a Greek slave. The musical release is also richly detailed while not sounding like one of those Scripture-to-song albums. For example, the closing song recounts the story of Luke 24:13-35, aka The Road to Emmaus, and how Jesus expounded on his ministry for the entire seven-mile journey. "The miracle of broken bread can open up your eyes" sings Card as a banjo accents the point.

Can those raised on Jeremy Camp and Underoath appreciate the classic sounds of Card? On a few songs, you wonder if the project is overly indie. Card's daughter Maggie even gets a vocal turn, and it's all a musical throwback. Yet, here is a true icon who has remained relevant—as a scholar, a teacher, a theologian. Oh, and a singer/songwriter.

Luke: A World Turned Upside Down
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
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Release Date
February 1, 2011
Ivp Books
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