I 2 (Eye)
It’s no accident that 1988’s I 2 (Eye) became Michael W. Smith’s first gold-certified album. This well-balanced collection of ballads and uptempo tracks reflects his desire to reach beyond the confines of the Christian music world. The songs here (co-written with Wayne Kirkpatrick) speak knowingly of the choices believers face in everyday situations. Sonically, much of I 2 (Eye) is an amalgamation of various ‘80s pop/rock styles, ending up somewhere between REO Speedwagon and George Michael. A touch of synthesizer-draped moodiness adds texture to “Ashton” and “Secret Ambition.” Smitty’s genial yet serious demeanor serves him well, whether he’s gliding along with a sparkling track like “The Throne” or delivering an affecting number like “I Hear Leesha.” I 2 (Eye)’s highly accessible sound provided a template for even more successful releases in the following decade. The album remains one of Smith’s most engaging efforts.