Personnel includes: Michael W. Smith (vocals, piano, keyboards, programming); Susan Ashton, Whitney Smith (vocals); Mrs. Hadden's 3rd Grade Class At Christ Presbyterian Academy, Nashville, Tennessee (spoken vocals); Bruce Gaitsch (acoustic guitar); Paul Franklin (steel guitar); Dann Huff (guitar); Patrick Leonard (organ, keyboards, programming); Tommy Simms, Lee Sklar (bass); Steve Brewster, Chris McHugh, Vinnie Colaiuta (drums);, Brian MacLeod (drums, programming); Luis Conte (percussion); Dennis Patton, Marc Moreau (programming); Molly Felder, Tim Erwin, Brent Bourgeois, Chris Rodriguez, Kim Fleming, Bob Bailey, Donna McElroy, Vicki Hampton, Chris Harris, Angelo Petrucci, Veronica Petrucci, Nicole Coleman Mullen, Michael Mellett, Micah Wilshire, Lisa Cochran, Renee Garcia Bliss, Richard Page, Natalie Jackson, Louis Johnson, Gardner Cole (background vocals).
Anointed: Denise "Nee-C" Walls, Da Dra Crawford, Steve Crawford, Mary Tiller (vocals).
Producers: Patrick Leonard (tracks 1-3, 5-14); Michael W. Smith (track 4).
Engineers: Jerry Jordan, Marc Moreau, Bryan Lenox, Keith Compton, Craig Hansen.
"Breakdown" contains a sample of the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr.
I'LL LEAD YOU HOME won a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
Michael W. Smith is a man of unshaken faith, of that there's little doubt. And his music-making skills are equally strong, as he proves again on this latest effort. I'LL LEAD YOU HOME is full of the kind of songs Smith has made his trademark: steady, mid-tempo rock, with a clear, honest Christian message. And this time around, Smith has added a bit of street-wise flavor, with a more percussive, syncopated sound. The record's first track, "Cry For Love," reflects this new rhythmic feel, and Smith seems to be reaching out for a new segment of the listening audience with each funky (albeit mildly so) beat.
This spiritual songster has always been able to pen a tune, and the melodic strength of tracks like "Love" and "Crown Him With Many Crowns" is undeniable. He also possesses a well-groomed, stadium-ready vocal style, which he displays with typical passion. Other strong tracks include "Someday" and "Breathe In Me," in which Smith admits he's far from the perfect Christian: "I used to be so sensitive to the light that leads to where you are...now I've acquired these calluses, With the darkness of a cold and jaded heart."
Clearly, Smith is a man still struggling with his demons. His music, however, remains relentlessly upbeat, and his fans will not be disappointed. Once again, he has "led them home" to where they want to be most--listening to his message, and his music.
I'll Lead You Home became the highest-debuting Christian album in chart history, and it's easy to see why. Produced by Patrick Leonard, the album consolidated Michael W. Smith's inspirational and pop success, combining gospel songs with glistening, immaculate pop production. Smith had earned pop fans with his previous record, Change Your World, and I'll Lead You Home showed those listeners that his inspirational records were every bit as good as his pop records. That's because they shared the same kind of mainstream pop production -- the layered synths and guitars spoke to the listeners nearly as much as Smith's voice itself. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine