Prime Cuts: Runway, Jesus Lovin' People, Hope Again
The baseline question to ask every record is this: are the songs melodically arresting and are the lyrics flowing with God-saturated vocabulary? With Ayiesha Woods' latest release "The Runway Project," the answer is yes to the two components of the question. Despite having only seven cuts and released independently, this record is better than some of Woods' full length albums when she was with Gotee Records. For starters, Woods has not yielded to the perennial temptation many singer-songwriters faced: she has avoided using the same melodic template for all the songs. As a result, each song on this set bears its own identity and donning its own style. Such diversity certainly (and kindly) relives us from monotony and boredom when we listen to this album straight through.
Woods was brought into the US music scene when tobyMac was vacationing in Jamaica. After hearing Woods on the radio, tobyMac was smitten. Later, Woods was given an offer to sign with Gotee Records and she was given a chance to make a record in the US. "Introducing Ayiesha Woods" was the result. Released in 2006, the album won Woods both a Grammy nomination as well as a GMA Dove Awards nomination. More importantly, Woods has made her way into the hearts of countless fans with songs such as "Happy" and "Big Enough." After another Gotee album, "Love Like This," Woods took a hiatus. After which, she decided to take the independent route.
"Runway Project" is by far Woods' best album to date. Each song here functions like her very own children, such as, Woods takes the time to nurture them in order to mature them in their own unique ways. "Humbling," which kicks off the set, has a 60s finger snapping Motown soul to it. Yet it is also Woods' most personal track to date. Re-calling a time when she was ready to throw in the towel, Woods recalls a divine encounter with a lady who gave her just the right Godly advice at the right time. It's easy to see why "Hope Again" is chosen as the album's lead single. The breezy pop production makes this optimistic and faith-filled song something radio will devour.
Nevertheless, the album's buzz track is the title song "Runway Project." Utilizing the taking off a plan at a runway as a metaphor of following Jesus without turning back, Woods has taken a contemporary image to express an old Gospel truth in a way that is tight, arresting, and poignant. Further, the melody of the song is so well crafted that it has a way of etching into your minds that leaves you humming to it all day. "People Lovin' People," on the other hand, finds Woods returning to her reggae roots as she gives Papa San a run for his money on this infectious singalong.
"The Runway Project," at the end of the day, is a runaway success. The record brims with memorable songs. These are songs, particularly the title cut, will stand the test of time.