Prime Cuts: Where Amazing Happens, Shackles (Praise You), Deepest Praise
Whether we care to admit it or not, we all love stories with "happy ever after" endings. In the genre of romance, we yearn to see the knight in shining armor ride away into the sunset with the damsel in his arms. In the genre of action movies, we want the protagonist to completely blow into smithereens the powers of the evildoers. In the genre of sports, we want the team we are rooting for to be the ones carrying home the golden trophy. And in the genre of life, we want our prayers to be answered and our lives to sail on triumphantly. But what happens if happy ever after is more elusive than we imagined? And what happens if life becomes messier than we envisaged? Through her own life and though her StowTown Records debut "Stronger," TaRanda Greene reminds us that we can still rejoice when life doesn't go our way. And through the wrestles of life's ups and downs, God will indeed make us stronger through the process.
TaRanda Greene is no novice to suffering. Not long after TaRanda married Tony Greene of the Southern music quartet the Greenes, Tony fell ill. In 2007, doctors discovered that the one functioning kidney Tony had was working at a very low rate. In 2009, TaRanda was cleared to donate her kidney to her husband. Unfortunately, throughout the next year, Tony suffered numerous complications and in September of 2010, Tony passed away. After which, TaRanda became clinically depressed and suffered through a spiritually low. Currently, she is finally free from depression and with God's help, she lives to testify of God's healing, care and deliverance on her brand new record aptly titled "Stronger."
So much of her autobiography interwoven into her rendition of Dan Dean's "Where Amazing Happens" that it feels like this gorgeous ballad could be her life's story set to music. On this pulverising ballad, Greene reminds us that it's often in our place of brokenness where God steps in. Greene continues on a similar lyrical trajectory with the felicitous title cut "Stronger than You Think You Are." The arpeggios of violin flourishes certainly give heft to this song that speaks of the strength God gives us in our weaknesses. Every album that Greene puts out, she'll have a song dedicated to her late husband Tony. Choosing out of the CCM canon is Greene's rendition of Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." In the light of Tony's death, when Greene sings: "Some day when we meet up yonder/We'll stroll hand in hand again/In a land that knows no partin'" you can't help but feel the tears swelling.
But not all is stymied in pain. Mary Mary's signature hit "Shackles (Praise You)" effervesces with a dynamism where we get to experience Greene at her bombastic best. And the blaring horns are so delightful that you would want to put this song on repeat. Greene who has sung with Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir on numerous occasions puts out her Gospel best with "A Little More Jesus." Embedding streaks of the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour," "A Little More Jesus" rocks with a holy abandon that is pure heavenly. Greene gets into contemporary worship with a heartfelt rendition of "Healer," a song that was previously recorded by Kari Jobe and Darlene Zschech with the Hillsong Team. While the piano-led "Deeper Praise" is a worship song with gravitas.
Yet, the ultimate value of listening to this album is what these songs do to our hearts. They remind us again and again that sometimes we make the judgment call too soon. For those who choose to wait upon the Lord and for those of us who seek Him in our pain, happy ever after is not that elusive after all. Rather, it's the ultimate destination for those who are willing to hang around in faith.