Lights of Distant Cities

Lights of Distant Cities

Bebo Norman’s thoughtful, melodically rich brand of Christian pop/rock songwriting and performance continues here. What’s new is a more nuanced production style, courtesy of the multi-talented Ben Shive. Acoustic guitars and techno textures combine to give these tracks an atmospheric feel reminiscent of Daniel Lanois’ work in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The simmering hammered dulcimer coursing through “The Broken” and the biting guitar edge of “World Gone Dark” wouldn’t be out of place on albums by Peter Gabriel or U2. Norman and cowriter Gabe Scott employ these contrasting sounds to highlight themes of spiritual healing and redemption with a compassionate touch. From the ethereal “Collide” to the urgent “At the End of Me,” the songs achieve a confessional tone that acknowledges the singer’s failings and scars. Norman is especially powerful when he creates characters and tells stories, as with the moody “Outside Her Window Was the World,” an account of a troubled young woman’s spiritual rescue. Fans of Bebo’s early folk-slanted work will connect with “Go with You,” a wistful look at parenthood from a believer’s perspective.

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