one of '97s best CCM records

Wrestling Angels (Myrrh)

Grover Levy

By Victoria Moon

Despite the fact that I spend a lot of time listening to CCM and working with artists and musicians within the CCM industry, I must confess that I don't like much of the stuff. CCM tends too often toward a vanilla pop sound with adorable lyrics that really don't say anything new. Of course, when something comes along that is innovative, challenging, and presents just plain good music, I hype it to the skies. Grover Levy's sophomore project, Wrestling Angels, is innovative, challenging and just plain good music, so get ready for some serious hyping: This disc could be the best thing in CCM in 1997.

From the first song, you know this is going be good. "If You Want To Lead Me to Jesus" is edgy pop hinting at the stylings of Matthew Sweet and is destined for hit singledom. The alternapop sound is carried through on "World Gone Crazy," a song Levy wrote while stuck in Atlanta traffic (and from what my husband says, just surviving such an experience is laudable -- writing a song in it is miraculous). "Marrianne" and "Dear God" are gentle, introspective ballads heavy on acoustic instrumentation that provide a sweet balance to the edgier songs, and prevent the disc from sounding too one-dimensional. One of my favorite tracks is "Tell Us What We Want To Hear," a sarcastic indictment of those who follow after preachers and teachers who offer them ear candy instead of truth.

In the end, it is the lyrical strength of songs like "Tell Us What We Want To Hear" and "Wander Below" that makes this project so good. Levy is a great wordsmith, and better yet, a wordsmith with a social conscience. Too often CCM artists write songs full of heaven, and not enough of the struggles of people right here, right now. The song "Wander Below" deals with the subject of racism from the eyes of a little girl in Alabama, and balances the injustice against the girl's strength of heart. I can only hope that more CCM artists follow Levy's lead in making songs that bring their much-needed heaven to this earth.

In an industry where too often artifice is substituted for art, Wrestling Angels is a welcome change. Strong songwriting, modern pop and stories of real people in real situations make this disc one of the most solid CCM projects I have heard in a long, long time.