Prime Cuts: Can I Pray for You, I Got Here as Fast as I Could, The Other Room
Mark Bishop is a rarity these days in Southern Gospel music. While many of his peers are satisfied to just spin around the same songs and hymns within the genre' canon over and over again, Bishop writes his own music. This gives him the opportunity to explore stories, themes, motifs, and melodies from uncharted vantage points that are refreshing and also moving. Who has even thought about depicting sanctification as playing a game of chess with the devil ("The Devil's Playing Chess")? Or looking at suffering from the perspective of Job's wife ("Job's Wife")? Or turning the story of Elijah and Elisha into a country and western tale ("Giddy-Up, Giddy-Up")? After imbuing us with such creative compositions for years and years, it is fair and appropriate for Bishop to be honor with a "best of" compilation.
"Seasons: A Collection of the Best" is a retrospective affair where 10 of Bishop's most popular have been lifted from his solo records from 2002 until the present. And as an added bonus to fans who already have had all of Bishop's recordings, two new songs are thrown in. With such a prodigious solo career, the major complain that this set is going to receive from fans is this "best of" collection doesn't do justice to Bishop. To be precise, 6 out of 12 of his solo records do not have a single song on this set; a misgiving that is bound to be the subject of countless contentions.
So, what's included in this collection? They are Bishop's more popular #1 Singing News hits. This means that some of his more creative efforts, such as all the aforementioned tunes have all been sidelined. Nevertheless, there are still some gems here. "My Name is Jesus" is one of those 3-D re-depictions of Jesus' resurrection that is pulverising. "I Can Rejoice," the title track of Bishop 2012 album, is a bouncy celebratory number setting James 1:2 to music. Who wouldn't want to be a friend of Bishop after listening to sing "Can I Pray for You?," "Can I Pray for You?" is the best thing you can ever do for a true friend.
As for the two new songs: both deal with two issues cardinal to our faith. "That's When It's Time to Pray" is an upbeat anthem celebrating the powerful weapon of prayer God has given to us. Those serious about fighting well for the Lord will find this song an indispensable asset. Often it's a challenge to express for us to express the transition from life to our everlasting life. "The Room" is the perfect specimen of stellar hermeneutics of taking such a lofty truth and making it palatable.
Overall, "Seasons: A Collection of the Best" is faulted for not offering enough tracks that canvas Bishop's best selections over his lengthy career. And points are also taken off for only choosing the "safer" hits. Other than these two discount, "Seasons" is a top notched album of theological rich songs executed over melodies that are memorable and creative.