ALBUM REVIEW: Rebecca Linda Smith "Hope"

There are some music artists that have a special something that stands out - some people call it "star quality" or the "it factor." Whatever words you use, Rebecca Linda Smith has "it" in spades, and her new album "Hope" is a thoughtful and passionate album that will be a winning addition to any music collection.
The success of the first song and title track "Hope" is simple: Rebecca Linda Smith offers an earnest self-penned song that is obviously heartfelt, and the sincere vocal performance could soften the hardest of hearts. Smith sings: "Never, never should they give up their hope for some child out there needs help to cope." The cut is also praise-worthy because it provides a seamless mixture of traditional country, Tejano and country gospel. This is no easy feat. While the title track is a meaty 5 minutes in length, the album "Hope" does not skimp on content either - with 15 tracks totaling over 57 minutes of music.

The second cut "Going To Nashville" is a biographical track of the musical journey of Rebecca Linda Smith and her husband, Dr. Robert Frank Smith (who wrote the song.) This track is a wonderful celebration that tells a powerful story, but the element that truly stands out is the potent hook. The chorus of "Going To Nashville" is insanely memorable and begs for a release to traditional country and Christian country radio. "Going To Nashville" deserves to be a chart hit for Rebecca Linda Smith and songwriter Robert Frank Smith.

"The Least, Last, And The Lost" is a slow, story-in-song that offers a sober examination of all levels of humanity. Once again, the chorus is memorable, and the track offers a valuable teaching moment for listeners of all ages. "Fast White Plane" has much of the same charm.

The biggest surprise on the album is the high energy "Texas And Tennessee," which was also written by Robert Frank Smith. The vocal performance by Rebecca Linda Smith is a worthy showcase for the autobiographical nature of the song, and it highlights both Smiths as a team whose love of country music has given them appreciation for their home state of Texas and their adopted home of Tennessee.

The theme of the album "Hope" is extended with the cut "There's Still Hope," which is performed in a contemporary Christian style reminiscent of the best work of Bob Carlisle (who topped the Billboard 200 with his hit album "Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace)."  No joke, this song is a must download, and the song is so powerful that it should be a required purchase for any person suffering from depression or going through grief. While the song (written by Adam Wheeler) is powerful by itself, it is the nuanced and reassuring vocal performance of Rebecca Linda Smith that really sells the song and allows the listener to truly believe that, yes, there really is hope. "There's Still Hope" deserves a place in several iMixes on iTunes, and it could prove to be an anthem for any person facing the hard knocks of life.

"That Living Water" showcases Rebecca Linda Smith's radio-friendly vocals, and every Christian country radio DJ should give this track a spin. The album ends with the stirring "Freedom's Never Been Free," which was written by both Robert Frank Smith and Rebecca Linda Smith. Knowing that both Smiths are veterans will enhance listeners' appreciation for this song, especially when a headline in today's news said: "American public numbed to drumbeat of troop deaths." Smith's song should be a reminder to all Americans when she sings: "When you've been at war, you realize much more - that freedom has never been free. Sometimes you must fight with all your might, because freedom's never been free." Bravo.

"Hope" is a diverse and interesting album with stellar production and solid material. While the project could have faltered in less steady hands, Rebecca Linda Smith's unashamed, rock solid faith in America and Christianity gives the album a sense of purpose. Moreover, it is that extra "it" she possesses that allows the listener to imagine they are hearing beautifully wise and comforting words that only a mother or a best friend could share.