Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Walk Away Different" Reviewed

Published just a few days ago at gvonline.net -

Reviewed by Sally Bolderson

Shannon Cerneka and Orin Johnson are the duo that bring to life "Oddwalk Ministries", who are represented by GIA Publications, Inc. Their purpose is "to help young and old alike embrace life as Eucharistic people through fun, upbeat and interactive music and witnessing." Rooted in the Midwest in Illinois and Missouri, you will find them leading retreats and workshops as well as entertaining at concerts and coffee houses.

On Walk Away Different, their 4th CD together, they bring to light a more intimate depth of their relationship with God. In previous projects they have leaned more to the songs that would appeal to a younger audience with fun and frivolity. On Walk Away Different I get a sense of their reaching out to a broader audience with messages that could speak to young and old. There is a great variety here with songs of hope, pleading and challenge among the 16 tracks of this record. You will find upbeat pieces that will have you tapping your toes and then in another moment, contemplating your walk of faith with a soft, meditative song that will touch your heart.

The various adaptations of popular psalms are always welcome and are represented well on this CD. As a liturgical music minister, I can appreciate having options when it comes to the sung psalms and find their renditions of six well known psalms to be very congregational friendly. I will surely use them in my own parish setting. I found the vocals to be very good and the addition of Sarah Bauer on many of the tracks is wonderful. Her sweet yet strong vocals add depth to these selections. Being a fan of harmony, I was very pleased to hear very nice harmonies throughout Walk Away Different.

As I listened to the CD I heard overtones of other very successful liturgical writers such as the St. Louis Jesuits, David Haas and Marty Haugen.

My favorites vary as much as the selection of songs on this CD. I found myself straying away a time or two from my listening through the first several tracks until I came to "Get It Together." Once I heard that song, I could feel the passion and energy that would be typical of a live performance with this duo. Unlike the first 6 songs that were nice enough, but also forgetful, "Get It Together" stood out and got my attention. Likewise was the song "I Give My Spirit" which I found to be a haunting and extremely powerful rendition of Psalm 31. The deliberate tempo and strong vocals really drew me into this song, not to mention the theme that we all encounter so often . . . our brokenness and our pleas to God for help. Of note as well, is a great Eucharistic song, entitled "Share" which would work well in any congregation for a Communion song.

Overall, I found Walk Away Different to be full of great themes of our faith, admitting our weakness, understanding God as our Savior in the Trinity, challenging us to move to the Light, move where God wants us to be. I think there is something here for everybody with direct and to the point messages. I feel that this CD will make great strides in becoming a staple in any liturgical music minister's music library. The songs are simple and would be easily worked into your choir's music repertoire. You can purchase Walk Away Different through GIA Music at www.giamusic.com/products/P-725.cfm.

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