Jennifer Knapp, The Collection

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With numerous hits on Christian radio and some best-selling albums to her credit, there is no question that Jennifer Knapp is one of the most important Christian artists from the last 10 years, or that her work is worthy of a best-of album. But when a record label puts out a two-disc hits and rarities collection after three projects in six years, questions naturally arise. Sometimes these “greatest hits” compilations signal a parting of ways between artist and label, but Gotee assures us Knapp is still under contract with no intention of going anywhere. It’s only been two years since Knapp’s last CD of new songs, The Way I Am, but Gotee says Knapp is simply on “extended sabbatical.” So, while fans continue waiting for new Knapp music, they can enjoy The Collection for what it is — a wonderfully packaged anthology that makes more effort to respect fans than any other in recent memory. The extensive CD booklet is filled with beautiful photos of Knapp, old and new. Liner notes for the rare and unreleased tracks explain why they were recorded or how the demos evolved into the well-known finals. But the real highlight is the collection of comments and testimonies from fans touched by Knapp’s music. Two or three are listed with each of the hits, which were selected by fans in an online poll. As such, The Collection gives fans unique involvement and ownership over the album. The generous 15-track retrospective gives each of Knapp’s three albums fair due, offering a nice mix of her roots rockers with the more reflective folk songs. Since it’s generally considered her best work, it’s not surprising that the track listing favors her 1997 debut Kansas the most. It’s hard to criticize this compilation, especially when Knapp’s core listeners did the voting. Still, it’s unfortunate that Kansas hits “In the Name” and “His Grace Is Sufficient” were left out. And I suppose it would have been too much to hope for the a cappella “Faithful to Me,” a song many associate with Knapp as a passionate first impression. Nevertheless, it’s pretty hard to mess up a hits album that features nearly half of the artist’s body of work. And that’s just the first CD. The second CD, titled A Diamond in the Rough, features 15 rarities, largely comprised of guest appearances from other albums and demos of her hits. It’s interesting that Gotee would release an album that nearly negates any reason for buying Knapp’s previous releases, but it merely marks the end of Knapp’s first career chapter as we wait for the next phase of her career. The Collection is a fine tribute to one of Christian music’s most popular songwriters, packaged with lots of love and honor. Copyright © 2004 Christian Music Planet, used with permission. Read more at ChristianMusicPlanet.com!

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