Prime Cuts: In You I Find My Joy, Heaven Came Down, The Windows of Heaven
Lynda Randle is a consummate vocalist par excellence. Never relying on the bling of polytechnics or even the vocal augmentation of computers or the glitter of today's beats or the extravagance of vocal gymnastics, Randle just sings. Her songs are so unadorned, often just featuring a piano and some soft percussion touches, it feels like she' singing right in front of you in a tiny church. And when she sings, she can blow us away with her heartfelt emotions that go deep into each syllable showcasing nuances that we don't often hear, even in those old hymns. So, if you are into a singer's singer who doesn't really use technical gimmicks, "Ageless Hymns: Songs of Joy" is for you. This collection of hymns, Southern Gospel favorites, African American spirituals, and one original courtesy of Randle and Joey Gore will be a sonic delight.
Randle was born in the inner city of Washington, D.C. She is the middle child of seven and feels blessed to have had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home. Randle's distinct alto voice has created opportunities for her to minister across the United States and around the world. Her gift has allowed her to share the stage with musical legends, from Andre Crouch to Gladys Knight. Lynda has opened for national sporting events and has had the distinct honor of being a musical guest for a Billy Graham crusade. She has been a favorite on the Gaither Homecoming Series and Videos. Her two most requested songs are "God On The Mountain" and "I'm Free." In 2005, she won a Dove Award for her album, "A Tribute To Mahalia Jackson."
"Ageless Hymns: Songs of Joy" is the third of a trilogy of hymn projects Randle has recorded for Gaither Music. In sync with her previous two preceding records, this record finds Randle tackling some of the great hymns of the church. But as the titular coda suggests, the hymns here have a thematic focus on joy. John Peterson's 1961 composition "Heaven Came Down" is the perfect specimen illustrating the album's theme. While many lesser artist would try to do an overblown bombastic rendition of this power-hued hymn, Randle's version brings out the joy of heaven without caricaturing it into irritation. What is noteworthy is that Randle, via her song choices, has correctly associate the Cross with joy. For without Christ's atoning sacrifice, no joy can be lasting and real. In this regard "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Down at the Cross" are gorgeous choices with Randle nailing them down perfectly.
Of note, is Randle's own co-composition with Joey Gore, "In You I Find My Joy." This is a beautiful piano-led worship ballad which functions as a prayer of dependence on Jesus as our joy. This song is stamped with the word "classic" all around. Randle also reaches back to her roots in offering three African American spirituals. For those of us not in the same tradition, these three songs are a breath of fresh air. "This Joy I Have" is a bouncy gospel-infused number; "Real Real" has a more bluesy pull; while we will be carried by heaven's breeze on "The Windows of Heaven" in singalong with Randle in no time. Hymn albums are often a snooze fest, but not with Randle. When she sings, the Spirit is stirred, and we listen.