Prime Cuts: Silent Prayer, Don't Hang Your Head and Cry, How Much Longer
Parker has been singing since he was age 9. And the depth of his cogitation of each's song spiritual nuances, his deft ear for memorable songs laden with substance and accessibility, and his vocal ability to be so chromatic that he's able to display the splendid arrays of emotions are evident on this brand new album. "Threads of Mercy," is Parker's long awaited follow up to "Timeless Treasures." While the 2012 record was a treasury of Parker's renditions of hymns and classic Gospel songs, "Threads of Mercy" has a larger portion of newer songs. Centering around the theme of seeing God's mercy and love working in our everyday happenstances, these 10 songs takes us on an itinerary of life's variegated moments. Stopping around Kodak-shy moments like sufferings, pain, waiting and even death, Parker like a seasoned pastor traces the presence of God in such circumstances often with care, sensitivity, and wisdom.
One song that is easily the buzz track on the record is the ballad "Silent Prayer." Thanks to Roger Talley's ingenious hand on the producer's board, listening to how the piano plays arpeggios around the tune is itself a treat. "Silent Prayer" is a gorgeously structure treat for the ears and heart as it speaks of how God loves listening to his children even when we are lost for words. Album closer "How Much Longer" continues on this theme of God's sovereignty even in our sufferings. However, this time round, "How Much Longer" is a sonic event as the layers of voices and sounds build to a crescendo that deserves multi-standing ovations.
With its jazzy tilt that goes back to bygone era of Perry Como and Frank Sinatra, "Don't Hand Your Head and Cry" sounds like a parody of the Ray Charles song "Cry." With a touch of brilliance, songwriter Jim Brady transforms what was originally an ode to fatalism into a triumphant of trust in God when we feel our world falling apart. In the same jazzy big band mode is Parker's excellent take of the Bill Gaither hymn "He Touch Me," a song that never seems to have lost its luster after all these decades. Never one to take his hat off for long, Parker gets groovy with some bluesy country funk with the lead radio single "Til the Shackles Fall Off," a song that finds its seed thought in Acts 16. Taking another cue from the book of Acts, this time from the second chapter, is the Holy-Spirit filled "When Heaven Shakes the House." Not really the best song on the album, but if you like lots of brassy stomps, "When Heaven Shakes the House" fits the bill.
More on par with country music fans is the slow steel-drenched waltz "God's in the Middle of It" which pinpoints sightings of God when our sight seems to have been muddled by the fog of disappointments and pain. All in all, "Threads of Mercy" is a great antidote for those of us who have been bruised by life and its tragedies. Listening to this album is therapy for the soul and it also provides us the 3-D glasses to see that God is not confused when he is weaving the tapestries of our lives.
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