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Time Again by Amy Grant

Reviewed by Heather R. Hunt

"...a satisfying collection of songs wrapped in a cozy live setting."

At the risk of revealing too much about my age, ahem, let me say that I've been listening to Amy Grant since the beginning. And I've stayed with her through her many seasons: teenage CCM phenom, top 40 crossover queen, divorce and remarriage kerfuffle, and now mature mother of four with a Nashville symphony hall named after her and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Along the way there were television specials and movies, a short-lived reality show that Grant-ed "Three Wishes," and now a book contract for her memoirs. That's a lot of life with many peaks and some valleys, all lived in the public eye and dissected under a finely-tuned microscope. But through all the controversy and accolades, there was always the music.

Time Again is a worthy catalog of that music. But not so much of the life. Amy has released two other greatest hits collections, so it's already possible to read her life through the progression of her music. With this live concert album, on the other hand, I was hoping for more stories behind the songs, reminiscences about other concerts, tales of mishaps and highlights on other tours, chit chat with long-time band members, maybe more interaction with the audience. Certainly, there is more talk on the companion DVD (the CD includes 17 concert songs plus 1 studio recording and a 4-song DVD preview B the DVD contains the full concert of 22 songs plus extra features), and perhaps the editors thought people would tire of listening to long stretches of talk on a music CD. Maybe they're right. Once you've heard the story, you don't need to hear it again every time you want to listen to the song. But I still maintain that these songs are available on other CDs if all you want is the music.

That disappointment aside -- and I may be the only one who's disappointed by this -- the performance itself is excellent. Band members Jim Bogios of the Counting Crows, Jonathan Hamby, Kim Keyes, Gene Miller, Will Owsley, and Millard Powers give great support and contribute passionate solos. Vince Gill pops in to strum the mandolin on "Saved by Love." And for a live concert, the sound quality is top-notch. Kudos to the sound crew who recorded the event over two nights at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Texas and the editing crew who mixed the tapes in Hollywood.

Musically, every era is covered from "In a Little While" through "Baby, Baby" to "Believe" (the theme from "Three Wishes"). This is a fun mix of secular and sacred, light pop music and somber melodic ballads. I'm happy some of my old favorites are performed, including "Lead Me On" (which kicks the concert off in high gear) and "Stay for Awhile." I guess I'm not as familiar with Amy's music as I claimed to be, however, because two songs, "Out in the Open" and "Eye to Eye," are new to me. So now they've become my new favorites.

Time Again is a satisfying collection of songs wrapped in a cozy live setting. It works both as a muscial scrapbook for long-time Amy Grant fans and as an introduction to Amy's sound for curious new listeners. As for that risky age disclosure, let me just assure you that I am younger than Amy.

Heather R. HuntHeather R. Hunt is a business editor in Connecticut. For fun she reads, writes, cheers on the Red Sox, and enjoys tennis and cycling. She also co-leads a local tea party and enjoys holding government officials and media outlets accountable. Check out her blogs, The View from Stonewater and Connecticut for Sarah Palin.