Prime Cuts: No Other Name Like Jesus, To Worship You Again, Making Me Stronger
Connoisseurs of Southern Gospel music who assiduously study liner notes will come across the name of Sandy Blythe. Blythe's name has graced many records; she's been known to have crafted songs for stalwarts such as the Perrys ("The Unexpected Storm"), the McKameys ("It Sure Looks Like Home," "Glorify the Lord in the Fire," "Your Prayers Have Been Heard"), and the Taylors ("To Worship You Again"). Other than being a well-respected scribe in Gospel music, Sandy has been singing with her family, collectively known as the Blythes. A visit to their home page reveals that the Blythes have had released a slew of albums with their latest being "Making Me Stronger." One listen to this record unveils why many Southern Gospel acts have been queuing up for her songs.
Chalked with great melodic lines framed in hymn-like structures, many of these songs appeal to both who like their worship reverent as well as young folks who like artists to take a few contemporary stabs. "No Other Name Like Jesus" starts off the album on a good note. Never thrifty in its production sound, this is a well-produced song that boasts in a sweepingly gorgeous string section that majestically transports right into the presence of Jesus. Tagged with lines of the hymn "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," the Blythe weave in the familiar with the new seamlessly. "Your Prayers Have Been Heard," a Sandy Blythe first recorded by the McKameys, gets reprised here to a simpler and countrier backing.
One of Sandy Blythe's mettle as a songwriter is her way around a ballad. Those of us who are feeling the brunt of sufferings will be thankful for the title cut "Making Me Stronger." Calling to mind Biblical passages like James 1 and 2 Cor. 1, "Making Me Stronger" speaks of how God often sends trials not to punish us but to make us stronger. "To Worship You Again" (also recently recorded by the Taylors) takes such a foreboding faith a step deeper. With a melody that pulverizes, this hymn-like song encourages us to worship even when we are in the throes of pain. "I Love You This Much" needs to be awarded for its ingenuity. Showing how a mother's love foreshadows our heavenly Father's love, this country-styled ballad is also a tearjerker.
However, the Blythe has also decided to throw in a couple of hymns "Through It All" and "Higher Ground" into the mix of originals. Normally, this would not be an issue. But with Sandy Blythe's towering songwriting prowess, one would wish for more of her own original inputs. Thrive on Sandy Blythe's sublime scribal skills, the wonderful harmonies of the family, and the rich and class production, these songs of faith do indeed make us stronger as they invite us to worship in the midst of all our fiery trials.