Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bob Carlisle

  • Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) [Diadem, 1997] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) [Diadem, 1997]
I don't hate the single like I'm supposed to--I think it's healthy for Christians to acknowledge the erotic subtext of parental love, and anyway, I choke up a little when she gets married (stop smirking unless you have a pubescent daughter). I note that as pop oversingers go he's on the human side of Celine and Hanson. And I like the professed humility of lines like, "I'm not tryin' to preach to ya/and tell you that I've found all the easy answers/when half the time I can't even find my keys." But the problem isn't just that this promise keeper is lying--music is his ministry, and damn straight he uses it to preach. It's that only on his fluke hit does he have the grace to universalize his beliefs even as much as Kirk Franklin, who makes his song about "mustard seed faith" signify even though it's far more God-proud. Carlisle is a niche evangelist, addressing the men's-movement generation of alienated suburban husbands, white and Protestant assumed. He's pretty good at it. But he's so short on true proselytizing zeal that no one else will give a shit once his smash crashes. B-