For nearly three decades, Michael W. Smith has been combining fervent Christian testimony with a sure feel for melody and hooks. Wonder is firmly within this tradition with its mix of anthemic rockers, reverent praise numbers and poignant character vignettes. “Save Me from Myself” and “Wonder (Not Far Away)” are aggressive synthesizer-driven tracks that proclaim their faith in urgent terms. Often Smith adopts an introspective tone that helps to make Wonder his most personal album in years. His earnest, slightly raspy vocals bring an intimacy to tunes like “You Belong to Me” (a loving valentine to his wife Debbie), “I’ll Wait for You” (a country-tinged statement of belief) and “Welcome Home” (a moving account of loss). Worship songs like “Run to You” and “Take Me Over” balance more pop-oriented pieces like “Take My Breath Away.” A particular standout is “Leave,” a powerful narrative that finds inspiration amidst tragedy. Smith is an old hand at making such reality-based accounts of salvation work in a pop/rock context.

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