MercyMe put out their first major label studio album, ALMOST HOME in 2001. It contained the mega-hit ‘I Can Only Imagine’. In 2002 they followed it up with SPOKEN FOR which included ‘Word of God Speak’. Next up was 2004’s UNDONE (INO), produced by Peter Kipley. At the time, the group’s roster was: Bart Millard (vocals), Robby Shaffer (drums), Nathan Cochran (bass), Mike Scheuchzer (guitar), Jim Bryson (piano/B3/synth), and new member Barry Graul (guitar). UNDONE debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Billboard Christian Albums Chart. It also won the Dove for ‘Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year’. Reflecting on the album’s title, in the liner notes Bart Millard writes: “While His plans came together, our plans came unraveled. I believe that is exactly where God wants us...undone. Incomplete. Unsettled with what we think is best, and embracing Christ, who knows what’s best”.
An adult contemporary song, ‘Where You Lead Me’, is the first song on the album. It is one of nine songs written by the band and Peter Kipley. It’s about spiritual surrender: “I’m drawn to You/As long as my heart is beating/Where You lead me, I will follow/Where You lead me, I’ll give my life away/Where You lead me, I will follow/Forever and a day (2X)/I can’t deny Your very presence is my life/And why would I even turn away?” ‘Everything Impossible’ is a pop song of testimony: “I took a leap of faith even though You’re difficult for me to explain/I know I’ll never be the same/You’re everything I cannot see/You’re everything I cannot say/I know it all seems so illogical/But that’s okay/You’re the love You give to me/You’re the love I give away/You are everything impossible and that’s okay”. Dan Muckala and Brad Russell are two of the co-writers of ‘Here With Me’ which was the album’s first single and a #1 hit. It’s modern worship: “You’re everywhere I go, I am not alone/You call me as Your own to know You and be known/You are holy, I fall down to my knees/I can feel Your presence here with me/Suddenly I’m lost within Your beauty/Caught up in the wonder of Your touch/Here in this moment I surrender to Your love”.
‘In the Blink of an Eye’ was the album’s third single. It peaked at #1 on the Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts. It’s a song of reflection: “Sometimes I feel disappointed/By the way I spend my time/How can I further Your kingdom/When I’m so wrapped up in mine?.../If I give the very best of me/That becomes my legacy/So tell me, what am I waiting for?/What am I waiting for?” ‘Unaware’ is about being totally caught up in God’s love: “I am free at last/Unaware of my fears/Unaware of my shame/Nothing else matters here/But glorifying Your Name/Unaware of everything/Knowing You’re aware of me”.
‘Homesick’ was the album’s second single and the only song here penned solely by Bart Millard. This adult contemporary song longs for heaven: “In Christ there are no goodbyes/In Christ there is no end/So I’ll hold on to Jesus with all that I have/To see you again (2X)/And I close my eyes and I see your face/If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place/Lord, won’t You give me strength to make it through somehow/I’ve never been more homesick than now”. Strings are used to good effect. Joel Hanson (PFR) is a co-writer on ‘When You Spoke My Name’. It testifies: “Now when I speak Your Name/I sing it like a sweet refrain/I have found a peace I can’t explain/When I speak Your Name/Cause when You spoke my name/Oh, I swear the angels sang/Peace came and stole my shame/When You spoke my name”.
‘A Million Miles Away’ is a pop/rock number about God’s faithfulness: “I believe that You’re always here with me/You’re everywhere but still within my reach/Cause how could You save the day/If You’re a million miles away?/Who’s to say what you can’t see can’t be found?/There’s evidence of Your presence all around/Cause how could You save the day if You’re a million miles away?” ‘Caught up in the Middle’ is another pop/rock song. It’s a song of desire: “I believe Your Spirit is alive and on the move/And I want to be caught up in the middle of You/I wanna be a part of what I know You’re gonna do/Oh, I wanna be caught up in the middle of You”.
‘Never Alone’ speaks of God’s faithfulness: “Someone tell me how I stumble into doubting all the time/Some days I’m all together/And other days I stand here asking ‘Why?’/Then a Voice comes calling out to me/’You’re never alone cause I am with you and I will always be/I will hold you cause you belong to Me/You’re never alone cause I’ll be with you for all eternity’”. The title track, ‘Undone’, is modern worship: “When I am overwhelmed/Holding pieces of my heart/When I feel my world start to fall apart/To the cross I run/Holding high my chains undone/Now I am finally free/Free to be what I’ve become/Undone”.
‘Shine On’ is an adult contemporary track that begins with these thought provoking words: “If we’re to be the light that shines for all of man/Then how can we light the way/If we don’t go to them?/I believe to know God’s heart/Is to meet them where they are”. Last up is the quiet song of determination, ‘Keep Singing’, on which Matt Slocum plays cello: “Another rainy day/I can’t recall having sunshine on my face/And all I feel is pain/All I wanna do is walk out of this place.../I gotta keep singing/I gotta keep praising Your Name/That’s the only way that I’ll find healing”.
UNDONE is a combination of Christian pop and adult contemporary music with doses of modern worship interspersed. The instrumentation and Bart`s vocals are great! Fans of Steven Curtis Chapman and Casting Crowns should buy this CD. God`s love and care for us come through clearly on this project, as does our responsibility to share God`s love with others. A strong desire to be in God`s presence and ultimately heaven, is conveyed. God alone is worthy to be worshiped. I`m rating UNDONE 88%. For more info visit: www.mercyme.org.