Michael W. Smith's success as a CCM crossover singer/songwriter has tended to obscure his major talent, which is, simply, as a composer of music. In 2000, he emphasized that talent with the all-instrumental album Freedom, and 11 years later he does so again on Glory. This time, Smith, a master of synthesized keyboards, has chosen to try his hand at acoustic orchestral music, employing the London Symphonica conducted by David Hamilton, who orchestrated his compositions. Smith himself plays acoustic piano. The instrumentation accentuates the composer's debts to European classical music, especially of the Romantic era. That's not surprising, given his affection for major-key melodiousness, in which grand themes are delivered warmly, if with a tendency toward bombast. However lyrical a piano figure may be in Smith's music, a crescendo leading to a triumphant climax is never far away. Smith's intentions are signaled by the overall album title, which refers not only to his Christian religion, but also to other forms of exaltation, such as that suggested by "Patriot," which has a hint of the old folk tune "Shenandoah," and "Heroes," with its lone trumpet (played by Jeff Bailey) seeming to mark it as a candidate for use in a military funeral. "Whitaker's Wonder," on the other hand, might be a lost section of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker," and evokes a vision of ballet dancers prancing across a stage. Guitarist Mark Baldwin duets with the composer on "Joy Follows Suffering," while violinist Gabrielle Lester dovetails with his playing on "Atonement," both melancholy tunes leading, inevitably, to more wholesome resolutions. In Smith's music, sadness may be suggested, but only as a difficulty leading to, as the buoyant, celebratory "Redemption" implies, a satisfying conclusion that his faithful listeners will understand, without any words being sung, is brought about by Christian faith.
William Ruhlmann, Rovi