Hymned Again

Hymned Again

Is “tasty” a proper description for an album of sacred music? The answer is a resounding “yes” for Bart Millard’s Hymned Again. This second solo outing by MercyMe’s front man is a welcome follow-up to 2005’s Hymned No. 1. Here Millard revisits the inspirational standards of his youth, with a few obscurities and a self-composed tune (“Jesus Cares for Me”) thrown in. The music is undeniably reverent — but also lighthearted, frisky and even a bit sly. Millard’s vocals have never sounded more natural, taking on a Lyle Lovett-like drawl for the Dixieland-styled “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” and easing into Al Green-tinged soulfulness for the funky “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Brown Bannister’s production yields some fine touches, such as the moody orchestration on “Grace that is Greater.” If smart arrangements enhance the album aesthetically, a sanctified message remains at the center of each song. This is especially true of uncluttered tracks like “Jesus Cares for Me” (a quiet expression of faith featuring Vince Gill) and “I Stand Amazed” (a folk-rock number enhanced by Christy Nockles’ second vocal). Hymned Again enlivens that old time religion with a winning sense of style.

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