One of contemporary Christian music’s most enduring and beloved artists, Michael W. Smith presents the highly anticipated instrumental follow-up to his 2000 RIAA Gold-selling album, Freedom. Titled 'Glory', the project, Smith’s 23rd career record, will be available at national retail outlets on Nov. 22.
Recorded with a 65-piece orchestra at London’s prestigious AIR Studios (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Peter Gabriel, Pirates of the Caribbean, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”), Glory was arranged by Smith’s longtime friend David Hamilton and features a moving collection of original music. Included on the album, produced by Smith, are “Glory – The Overture,” “The Patriot,” “Heroes,” “Whitaker’s Wonder,” “Redemption,” “Atonement,” “The Romance,” “The Tribute” and a larger-than-life symphonic version of “Agnus Dei.”
Smith comments, “I’ve said many times that Freedom is my favorite record, so I’m very excited to be releasing my second instrumental record. I think the people that enjoyed Freedom will love this one; and I actually think some of the unique musical twists this project is taking will open it up to a whole new audience as well.”
On the inspiration for Glory, Smith notes, “When I work with an orchestra I feel like I’m in my element. I often think of the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ and the famous quote by the film’s hero Eric Liddell. He says, ‘when I run I feel His pleasure.’ This statement encompasses my experience when I work on instrumental music. When I’m able to see sweeping melodies and epic, cinematic songs come to fruition, it’s like I am offering a prayer to our Father in Heaven.”
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Glory Hallelujah| Posted November 19, 2011
In 2000, Michael W. Smith released an instrumental project entitled Freedom. The project has sold more than 500,000 copies, and fans have often asked when he was going to make another record like it. Just over a decade later, the time has finally come. With his twenty-third album, Smith brings us Glory.
Smith began the project at home in Tennessee, later traveling to England to AIR Studios where he recorded with a 71-piece symphony orchestra. While Glory captures a spirit similar to Freedom, this record is its own project. Where Freedom had a strong Celtic influence, Glory is more American, and more cinematic in scope. Like Freedom, though, Glory will transport you. And you'll enjoy your journey through the different scenes that Smith presents on this album.
"Glory Overture" kicks off the record with tympani and brass. The piece is grand and vibrant, melodic and cinematic. The early part is reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark and feels boldly adventurous. The song later slows and takes a magical, sweeping turn with bells and strings. Smith says the song was influenced by John Williams' movie score for E.T. While you'll be able to hear that influence, Smith has his own flair and flavor, and he is clearly at home creatively on the project. "Glory Overture" sets the tone for something special to come.
The next two tracks are distinctly patriotic, filled with love for home and country. "The Patriot" feels victorious, strong, and proud, like a soldier greeted with a parade after coming home from battle. The song pairs nicely with "Heroes," the next track. A tribute to the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers past and present, "Heroes" contains a hint of sadness, but it builds from strings and a lone, clear horn into a gorgeous, majestic piano piece. This album is not just a collection of songs. It is an array of musical landscapes. Eventually, strings and drums join the piano, and then the rest of the orchestra comes in. The melody for "Heroes" is one that will stick in your head, and the song would be right at home in a grand military ceremony or even as an Olympic Games theme.
Michael shifts his gaze for the next few tracks. First comes "Forever," his love song for his wife, Debbie. He says the song is a family favorite at home and that friend Wes King has even written a lyric for it. For now, though, it's presented as an instrumental. The piece is moving and vast, so the name "Forever" is fitting, because the emotion it imparts feels unshakeable and boundless. It feels like love.
Track five, "The Blessing," is meant to be the musical embodiment of Smith's book, A Simple Blessing. With this song, Smith says he wants to evoke a feeling of thanksgiving, and he does. The song lends itself to a prayerful experience, and it's brimming with emotion.
Next, it's time to play. "Whitaker's Wonder" is a whimsical tune inspired by Smith's grandson. Wonder perfectly describes the feeling this song conveys. There are some beautiful interludes and featured solos along the way, as the piece playfully prances in an enchanting style reminiscent of The Nutcracker Suite, Harry Potter, and even Home Alone.
After the delight of "Whitaker's Wonder," the tone shifts dramatically for the upcoming four-song sequence. The moody, "Joy Follows Suffering," depicts the life of Jesus. I feel like we're with Him as He knowingly contemplates His life-purpose in the garden. There is a particularly moving classical guitar solo in the middle. And while the song is peaceful and elegant, a note of sadness lingers.
"Glory Battle" is a stirring song which Smith says represent spiritual warfare. This anthem is a clash between good and evil, darkness and light. I imagine a landscape like that in The Lord of the Rings during the fight against Sauron. The arrangement becomes imposing, but toward the end the dark notes vanish and the light, airy sounds dominate. The tune seems headed for a quiet ending, but it is not an ending, only a lull, as Smith thrusts us right back into battle with driving beats and racing strings. "Glory Battle" has a punctuated, punchy ending that moves into a desolate sound like wind in the desert.
Thus begins "Atonement," which has some of the prettiest piano work I've ever heard, from Smith or anyone else. This piece is an aural representation of the death of Christ. It begins with minor key sounds but eventually brightens. There are two distinct sections to the song, suggested by producer David Hamilton. This is a technique that Chopin used to convey a broad range of emotion and evoke an emotional response in the listener. The track ends on a victorious note before the orchestra bounces into "Redemption," the final segment of the four-part sequence.
"Redemption" weaves together two very different sounds: bouncy Americana and an Old West celebratory romp. I picture lace-up boots and hoop skirts whirling and twirling in celebration. Near the song's end, there is a tinkling of bells, like a sprinkling of fairy dust, which soon swells into a joyous brightness, like the bursting forth of a grand sunrise. What an apt representation for the victory and glory won for us through Christ's triumph over death!
Michael W. Smith wraps things up by returning home for "The Romance," another gentle love song for Debbie, his wife of thirty years. The song is romantic and lush, and the listener feels wrapped in a loving embrace. Need I say more?
The album closes with a two-part piece. "The Tribute" was written to commemorate the 60th wedding anniversary of George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, and Smith played it for the former First Couple at the White House. From "The Tribute," he subtly shifts into an instrumental version of "Agnus Dei." You'll find yourself breathing slowly and deeply until, as the quiet song breaks open to the glory of God, your meditative spirit bubbles over into spontaneous song and praise. Worthy is the Lamb, indeed!
While it may not be a standard lyrical project from Michael W. Smith, Glory is worth repeated listens. The album is by turns contemplative, majestic, somber, romantic, joyful, and playful. But it is always melodic and filled with feeling and passion, fueled by Smith's God-given talent and enthusiasm for music, as well as by his thankfulness for the blessings bestowed by a loving Creator. To listen to Smitty's newest record is to be filled with awe and wonder. The music is the perfect backdrop for the holidays. Play it while you're working on a project for a special someone, or while you're baking cookies or wrapping gifts. You'll feel the magic of the Season--a magic that comes from the miracle of Christ's birth and the beauty of His loving sacrifice.
Michael W. Smith's "Glory!"| Posted November 18, 2011
I may be a little biased, but I don't believe Michael W. Smith can do any wrong! Once again he has hit gold with "Glory" his new instrumental album.
While I am a fan of Smitty's contemporary music, I love to listen to his instrumental compositions. In the many times I have seen him in concert I truly marvel the most when it is just him alone with the piano.
His touch on the keyboard is like that of a lover. The orchestrations are at times thundering and other times light and playful. Just listening to the music lifts my cares away and allows me to escape to areas I've never been.
Thanks Smitty for another brilliant work of music and I personally can't wait until I can add the CD to my collection. It is a perfect present to give for my 26th wedding anniversary the day after its release.
Congratulations and I pray the album brings you all that you deserve to the "Glory" of God!
Glory| Posted November 18, 2011
Oh My Gosh, I absolutely loved Michael's 'Freedom' CD that came out quite awhile back but Gloryis even more fantastic!!! Michael is such an incredible writer and musician. I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with him numerous times and he is a really wonderful person. His talent for creating such beautiful, inspirational music is beyond words for me. Some of the songs had almost a "Christmas" ring to them but then Michael is all about helping us reach out to God and sharing the good and the bad always knowing we are loved and watched over.
Michael, you have done it again. This CD is absulutely incredible. I am so excited to have heard it and will be listening to it as I do all your music when I get my copy next Tuesday. Thank you so very much for always sharing your love, faith and strength with me, you have no idea how it helps to get me through. You are truly a gift from God and I know he is so incredibly proud of you.
glory album| Posted November 30, 2011
Amazing amazing. I love this album already. Eish God really did give you a gift of which you need to really give back to God all the honour glory and praise. I love the album and espacially the forever song something to it.
I know there's a lot of people out there who see instrumental music as pointless, because there's no deep spiritual, or thought provoking lyrics, to sing along with. There's nothing to get stuck in your head to convict you, or encourage you throughout the day, so why should someone even bother to give this album a listen?
Those were my thoughts when i first learned that Michael W. Smith's album Freedom was an instrumental album. No lyrics, just music. For the longest time, i never bothered to give it a chance, letting my own prejudices against 'pointless' songs blind me. One day though, i had a change of heart, and decided that since it was from Michael W. Smith, my favorite artist, i should at least listen to it once...
As the music of Freedom washed over me for the first time, i was inspired. How had i let such incredible songs go unheard? Why had i not given it a chance any sooner? i came to discover that just because a song doesn't have any words doesn't mean that it isn't worth listening to.
Kinda reminds me of a quote from St. Francis, ''Preach the gospel to all the world and if necessary, use words.'' Just like words aren't necessary to share the Gospel, lyrics aren't necessary to express an idea in a song. Love is the universal language, used to bring others to Christ, just like music is the universal language used to touch people's hearts.
These days, most artists seem to have the mentality that a song isn't truly a song, unless it's been completely rocked out with as many electric guitars as they can fit into it, or if it's been synthesized to death with 8 different kinds of drums etc. While i don't think there's anything wrong with electric guitars and drums here and there, sometimes they just get in the way of the true, raw musicality of a song. Sure, even Michael W. Smith has had his moments of totally rocking out a song, but he is also one of the few artists that truly understands the beauty and simplicity of a classical, traditional orchestral sound.
Over the years there's been talk of Michael W. Smith doing a second instrumental album as a follow-up to Freedom, and now in just a few short days Glory will be hitting music stores everywhere. I challenge those who like me, used to have the same attitude against instrumental music to pick it up, and give it a listen, or you can just listen to the free live stream here on New Release Tuesday. either way, you'll be glad you did. Words just don't do it justice, and can't convey the creative musical genius of Glory, and if you haven't ever listened to Freedom, then i sincerely hope you'll give it a listen as well. :D
Wonderful| Posted November 18, 2011
The music is so beautiful, to sit down and relaxed with this background music is such a blessing. I'am staying in South Africa and Michael attend one of our church meetings where he was singing and learing the congregation one of his new songs on a previous christmas cd. This man is sold out to Jesus.
Glory| Posted November 18, 2011
Michael W. Smith new cd Glory is a must have. Amazing work, go out and get it for anyone that like instrumental music. This is just amazing to listen to all day long. I have played it all day on Newreleasetuesday.com. Listen to it for your self to see what u think, a must have.
Excellent!!| Posted November 18, 2011
I am very fond of his first instrumental project, "Freedom," so I was naturally intrigued by his latest project. Michael is a very talented song writer and it show the best in these projects. "Glory" is incredible and takes you on a full of range of emotions. Amazing!! Thank you!
"Glory" in every way, spells out this point in Smitty's career!| Posted November 18, 2011
To the point, "Glory" as a stand alone album is the perfect treat for any fan of symphonies, film scores, or anything that tells a story through melody. From the grand overture to the crescendoing conclusion piece, this album weaves quite adventurously through multiple realms of emotion, humanity, and sacred values. It is a must-have, must-experience record for anyone who loves music.
For Michael W. Smith, this is a fine album to record this far into his career. Fans have been asking for a follow-up album to his first successful instrumental effort, and they will surely not be let down by this one! As a personal fan of mostly his pop material, I really appreciated his latest effort with "Wonder" last year, and it is seriously underrated as a testament to Smith's progressive talent. The hope here, is that "Glory" will not follow a similar fate, but as his instrumental work does reach a different demographic than his pop material overall, that will most likely NOT be the case!
Perhaps my one criticism (if it could be called that), is that after having heard a sample of "Redemption" first, along with Smith's inspiration on his website, I had expected a different overall sound than what I initially heard. Trying to remember his description, which included a 4-song cycle ending with "Redemption," somehow I wasn't really sure how to connect with it. However, this is not to say that the song itself was a disappointment. If I only heard the song itself, without knowing anything about it, it still would be A-quality material. Maybe I just need to experience it a couple more times...
Nearing his 30-year mark in his musical career, Smith proves once again that he has not lost his multi-level touch. If (God-forbid!) he were to stop recording music here on out, this would be a fine send-off to his phenomenal career.
Glory| Posted November 17, 2011
An excellent orchestral album in almost every respect. The arrangements, performances, recording etc...are all top notch. This release truly feels like a film score, with a good collection of majestic and powerful songs, mixed with quieter and very reflective pieces. The only negative thing I can think of (and it's not really so much negative but just an observation) is that I didn't find myself feeling worshipful or thinking about God so much when listening to this album. Once you remove vocals (that guide the listener along on a particular subject or topic) and get into all instrumental original pieces, there really isn't anything Christian or non-Christian per se and it's just music. It creates emotions and feelings but you can basically read into it whatever you want...similar to what Disney did with Fantasia. So for an all instrumental album of original works, a description of worshipful at times seems like it would be more individualistic. Some of the most beautiful music created was done all instrumentally for orchestra, AND WITH THE INTENT TO PRAISE GOD!, so it is great that music like this is still being created. MWS definitely crafted a beautiful album on Glory.