CD Review: Better Questions, by Todd Agnew

Better Questions, by Todd Agnew

Better Questions, by Todd Agnew (2007, Ardent Records)

Todd Agnew is the gifted songwriter who brought us the life-changing “Grace Like Rain” and “My Jesus.” Better Questions came out in 2007. The title of the CD comes from the first track: “I’ve got better questions than I have answers….”

Although I don’t ordinarily do music reviews it got into my head and wouldn’t rest until I talked about it. So here’s my review, formerly posted on my reviews page where it may not have been seen.

Better Questions’ music ranges from the rocky, driving “Least of These” and “War Inside” to the pensive “If You Wanted Me” and “Can I Be With You?” to the playful and catchy “Funny.” “Martyr’s Song,” co-written with novelist Ted Dekker, gives a poignant view of God’s longing to welcome His children into Heaven.

The songs are Agnew’s own, except for “Our Great God” (a duet with Rebecca St. James) , “Can I Be With You?,” and the bonus track “Glorious Day,” which continues his tradition of reprising a public domain hymn in his own unique style.

Todd Agnew sings as everyman/woman, exploring Christians’ struggle to live right and challenging us to see past the labels we put on others into their hearts and needs. His lyrics leave no room for plastic Christianity.

The songs remind me of the group Casting Crowns, who also call Christians to authentic living, although Agnew’s music is heavier. His straightforward lyrics remind me of contemporary Christian music pioneer Keith Green, but they don’t have the harshness I sometimes felt in Keith’s delivery. There’s no judgement here, just an awareness of our common need for grace and a heartfelt “We have His heart, what is keeping us from being His hands?”

Better Questions packs a challenging message, but it’s no sermon set to music. Todd Agnew delivers vibrant music with raw, honest lyrics that could have come from our own souls—or our neighbours’. Like the old man in “A Corner in Memphis,” “he’s telling us our story, or at least his side.” It’s worth a listen.

Todd Agnew’s newest CD, Need, comes out on October 6, 2009. I took advantage of the pre-order special and got an immediate download of his new single, “Joy Unspeakable,” along with a downloadable 5-song acoustic EP. I did it to get the bonus tracks that’ll be available when the CD releases, and I’ve got to say, I’m enjoying the acoustic EP and “Joy Unspeakable.”

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