Contemporary Christian fan favorite Brandon Heath inches closer to becoming a crossover pop artist on Leaving Eden. The evolution on his third disc is not a large departure from the plainspoken appeal that vaulted him to the top of critics' and fans' lists alike. Yet it effectively harnesses his strength as a storyteller, and once again takes advantage of producer Dan Muckala's ear for contemporary midtempo beats as a backdrop. The tales of the former GMA Male Vocalist of the Year hint at innocence lost, but to borrow the artist's own expression, Heath tries to say "I'm not who I was" when, in reality, he makes only modest strides from the summer camp singalongs of his debut to more mature songwriting and subject matter. The title track leads off the album with a poignant laundry list of headlines that paint a picture of a fallen world. But it doesn't take long before Heath returns to safer themes of comfort and hope. The thematic limits are subtle, however, and are revealed by Heath's warm vocals. The album is a step in the right direction with the songwriter taking more chances on the Jason Mraz-like reggae beat of "It's No Good to Be Alone" and "Might Just Save Your Life." Similar to the pleas for understanding of Mat Kearney's City of Black & White, Leaving Eden dives a little deeper and comes up with some of the most well-crafted artistry of Heath's career.
Jared Johnson, Rovi