Prime Cuts: Be Still and Know, El Shaddai, Power in the Blood
Amy Grant knows how to cross pollinate across genres with fecundity. Way before artists know how to knock off scaffolding between the secular and religious, Grant scores #1 hits on both the Christian and the pop charts with magniloquence. On the Christian charts, she dotted it with #1 faith-builders such as "Hope Set High," "Sing Your Praise to the Lord," "My Father's Eyes," "El Shaddai" and many others. Equally successful on the secular front is Grant when she perched on the lofty #1 with "The Next Time I Fall" and "Baby Baby." Even in recent years, Grant never fails to astonish when her remix album "In Motion: The Remixes" released last year managed a top 5 placing on the Billboard Dance Album chart. And so characteristic of Grant, she swings the pendulum back again to the Christian fold with this new compilation "Be Still and Know... Hymns and Faith."
First, to designate "Be Still and Know" as a compilation is a misnomer. This is because the set features two brand new cuts Grant has recorded with the aid of her husband, country music veteran Vince Gill. Out of this oeuvre of work is the title cut "Be Still and Know." The song bears all the fingerprints of Vince Gill, especially in his latter works such as "Feels Like Love" and "Young Man's Town." A mid-pacer of a pop-country shuffle, "Be Still and Know" takes the words of Psalm 46 and etches it into our memory and our hearts with its sublime melody. The other new entry is the album's opener "Power in the Blood." With her slightly grainy vocals, Grant gives this Lewis E. Jones' hymn a vivacious take. And pay attention when Grant hits the chorus, you can hear Vince Gill's all-so glorious high-soaring tenor in the background.
Second, to say that this is a hymns album is also a blatant misnomer. Sure, the hymns dominate, but Grant is careful to also include some of her other more contemplative original material sandwiched in between the hymns. Grant's #1 hit "El Shaddai" is still a modern day classic; a hymn that ranks highly with those of the Wesleys and Watts. And with the thoughtful and wizened nuances she imbues with each syllable of this ode of praise to God, "El Shaddai" is still ravishing. Taken from Grant's 2012 "How Mercy Looks from Here" is "Deep as It Is Wide." God's love again gets the attention with upcoming country music artist's Eric Parsley and Sheryl Crowe joining Grant on vocals. Originally lifted from her "My Father's Eyes" but re-recorded a few years back is "Carry You." A song crafted from God's vantage point where the Father longs to aid and carry us in our times of hardships.
The rest of the hymns are taken from two of Grant's formerly released hymn collections. But even when Grant tackles a hymn like "Just as I Am," she meshes it with relatively newer material to give her renditions a contemporary update. Speaking of crossing bridges from one world to another, Grant is the best at such cultural exegesis. And this album is a testament of her prowess; once again on this disc, Grant shows how she can engage the modern world with the old sonic treasuries of the church with glowing results.
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