Prime Cuts: Higher, The Loving Kind, Alive and Well
The Loving Kind is by no means Cindy Morgan's most successful album. Her debut album Real Life garnered her 6 GMA Dove Awards. Neither is it, her most melodious album to date. In fact, some of the songs are a little quirky in terms of their melodic structures. If one has to choose, 2006's Postcards would be this reviewer's choice for her most melodiously supreme CD to date. Nor is The Loving Kind her most introspective manifesto where she aired her deepest and earth-shattering convictions grounding her own life and ministry. If one were to pick an album that would satisfy such qualifications, it has to be last year's ruminative Bows and Arrows. Nevertheless, what sets The Loving Kind off as an indispensable charter in Morgan's storied career is that it's an album where Jesus plays the main character. Every song, every word, and every nuance is about Him.
Released on March 10th, 1998, The Loving Kind is a concept album inspired by Morgan and her husband's trip to Israel. Collectively, the songs chronicles the last 8 days of the life of Jesus here on earth. Each song gives careful exposition to the various encounters of Jesus on what is His most important week. Musically, Morgan often takes the scenic route, never sticking to the tried and true GPS-directed synth-pop template of her earlier efforts. Off to an authentic start is the Yiddish sounding "In the Garden," a song that packs a big theological punch where Morgan makes the connection between the Garden of Eden and that of Gethsemane.
"The March" tells of Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. While we would expect a big bombastic treatment of "The March," Morgan pleasantly surprises us with a pseudo-jazz pop treatment with an extended horn section to boot. The piano-based title cut "The Loving Kind" takes a stab at the heart as Morgan places us in the shoes of Peter in the throes of his betrayal of Christ. What makes this ballad such a tugger at the heart is its palatability. Though we may have betrayed Christ too, Christ's offer of forgiveness still overwhelms our failures. "Devil Man" and "The Whipping" are the album's most interesting cuts. Here's Morgan as you have never heard her before. The former "Devil Man," which views Christ's betrayal from the side of Judas Iscariot has a quirky Celtic funk, while "The Whipping" falls more in the alternative rock genre.
"Higher," flourished by some gorgeous sounding strings, combines both anguish together with transcendence. Andrew Ramsey, Michael W. Smith, and Morgan come together to co-write "Alive and Well" which is the album's most invigorating tune and it deserves to be as it's the celebration of history's hinge event - the resurrection of Christ. Of all of Morgan's records, with Jesus as the main character, The Loving Kind deserves its pride of place. It's an album about the world's most remarkable man with an everlasting message that is still transforming lives today.