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Pressing On by Becky Haagsma

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Review of Pressing On

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The Advocate

Pressing On
by Becky Haagsma

Reviewed by Heather R. Hunt

"...a marvelous collection of eclectic musical styles ranging from groove to rap to worship to ballad. Haagsma herself has a rich set of pipes which she uses to belt, rap, soar, or soothe."

The serendipitous thing about being a reviewer is that sometimes you receive the pleasant surprise of discovering a new artist. Becky Haagsma is a musician I hadn't heard of and probably would never have listened to if Title Trakk had not asked me to review her CD.

I am pleased to report that Pressing On is a marvelous collection of eclectic musical styles ranging from groove to rap to worship to ballad. Haagsma herself has a rich set of pipes which she uses to belt, rap, soar, or soothe. And she's also co-producer and writer or co-writer on all 12 songs. Quite the undiscovered talent. Until now. At least by me. And now, I hope, by you.

I was intrigued from the opening sounds of the first song, "Joy." The sound is sort of a reverse electronic glissando running down the scale from high to low pitch. On my car stereo with the Bass all the way up and the Treble all the way down it sounds like I'm on the Death Star in the middle of the original Star Wars: Number IV A New Hope. Specifically, the pivotal scene when Obi-Wan Kenobi lowers the lever to disengage the Death Star's tractor beam so the Millenium Falcon can escape. Those of you of a certain age will know exactly what sound I'm speaking of. Cool. Way cool. One doesn't usually expect sound effects like this to open a CCM CD. But this one appropriately sets listeners up for the sonic smorgasbord to come.

Haagsma and executive producers Michael Carter and Michael Morgan use a variety of arrangements and styles to present these songs of conversion, gratefulness, praise, wonder, and invitation. The centerpiece of the collection for me is the melodic and creatively arranged "Grace." This song begins with solo piano, ends with acapella singing, and in between changes styles a few more times, including a lovely violin strain that floats over the top for a while, all to press home the point that "Your grace is sufficient for me." Lovely.

Other songs of note include the title cut, "Pressing On," which musically contemporizes Paul’s declaration that in Christ "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new;" the rap tune "More than Conquerors," which if you think about it, is the perfect musical genre to express this triumphant, in-your-face Biblical promise from the (rap) Master of the Universe; "Robin's Song," a softer, more personal prayer to the Heaven Father for a hurting friend; and "Adonai," a quiet yet passionate personal meditation of praise and devotion for Adonai's unending guidance and grace. The CD's closer is a musically welcoming melodic invitation to "Come As You Are.””

Production values on this independent CD are world-class professional and full-bodied. The only addition that I would have suggested to enhance this package would have been Scripture references on the liner notes. Since so many of the lyrics are direct quotes or accurate paraphrases of Biblical promises and truths, it would be an added blessing for listeners to be able to look up the Source and read the context in which these promises were made.

But this is a nitpick. Truly, Becky Haagsma’s debut CD, Pressing On, displays a maturity and polish that belies its newbie status. I hope we hear more soon.

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.