Prime Cuts: Pray Now, I Choose Christ, Blessed
Each of Karen Peck and New River (KPNR)'s album titles functions like a succinct spot-on prophetic statement. With previous titulars such as "Revival," "No Worries," "Good to Be Free" and "A Taste of Grace," they work like bite-size truth so appropriate for our daily lives and the daily ministry of the church. And in a cultural milieu of the ISIS massacre, the recent Nepal earthquake, and the Indonesian executions, there's nothing more veracious and apt than to "pray now." On a more personal level, "Pray Now" strikes an even more intimate chord with Karen Peck as her husband is in in the midst of a bout with cancer. Further, the title track which is a gorgeous ballad that calls to incorporate the Lord's Prayer into our daily prayer articulations is a spiritual discipline Karen had been practising with her hubby together for quite some time. Thus, "Pray Now" is more than just another KPNR Daywind Records release. Rather, it's the prayer journal of the team with shafts of spiritual insights and wisdom set to music.
Ever since 1991, KPNR which comprises of Karen Peck, her sister Susan Peck-Jackson and Jeff Hawes, has been making their mark in Southern Gospel Music. Together, they have garnered a whopping 11 Favorite Soprano Fan Awards from the readers of The Singing News Magazine. And they have had 5 consecutive #1 songs. Songs such as "Hey," "Last Night," "Four Days Late," "Revival" and "Whispered Prayers" are already Gospel radio staples. "Pray Now" is destined to follow such a path. The album opens with a propulsive barn burner "Calling." Fusing some relentless sounding banjos, frenzy fiddling, and the big belting voice of Karen, there's a vim of energy that beckons us to listen to Christ's calling for us to follow him. Fans who adore KPNR rolling out such a ball of passionate energy will also love "I'm Not Letting Go," a song that showcases Jeff Hawes' soaring tenor.
As much enjoyment as the beat kickers are, the ballads are easily the album's cynosure. The aforementioned title cut "Pray Now" is where Karen Peck invests so much intimacy in her phrasing and nuancing that her vocals itself are worth the price of this CD. Those who are going through the thick thickets of life's tribulations with indeed be blessed by "Blessed." A faith-affirming ballad, "Blessed" speaks of our Savior's loving grasp on our lives whether we are in life's greener pastures or life's desert. "I Choose Christ" is the crowning epitome of this triumvirate of ballads. Gorgeous as the melody is, awe-inspiring as Karen's vocals are, it's what this song does to our faith that truly makes "I Choose Christ" an instant KPNR classic.
Two covers are worthy of noting: the first is KPNR's take of Newboys' "Hallelujah for the Cross." Going out on a contemporary tangent, KPNR shows us that they can infuse tackle contemporary worship songs with ease and individuality. And the other cover, which was also revived recently by Point of Grace is "A Life That's Good." The song, which closes off the record, ends the album on a sweet, thankful note. "Pray Now" is more than just another dotted entry on KPNR's prodigious discography. Rather, it's an album of songs that speak to our souls in such a timely and prophetic way.