Michael W. Smith, "Wonder"

85 Billboard Rating

"Wonder" might be Michael W. Smith's 22nd album, but the veteran singer/ songwriter has never sounded more compelling or impassioned. Teaming once again with producer Bryan Lenox, who helmed Smith's albums "Freedom" and "This Is Your Time," the three-time Grammy Award winner delivers a set that's lyrically diverse and musically satisfying. The tracks "You Belong to Me" and "Forever Yours" are gorgeous love songs inspired by Smith's wife of 29 years, Debbie. Elsewhere, "Run to You" boasts a memorable melody and poignant lyric about surrendering to God's grace, and Smith's performance on "Leave"-an unsettling yet moving ballad from the viewpoint of a tormented youth seeking escape from a tragic, painful life-is achingly vulnerable. But longtime fans will most likely relate to such buoyant pop anthems as "Save Me From Myself" and "Take My Breath Away." With all of the new acts out there clamoring for attention, it's nice to see an icon in the Christian format like Smith who keeps setting the bar high with innovative production and thought-provoking tunes.