Prime Cuts: I Know I'll Be There, The Reason, God's Got a Blessing
Overall Grade: 4/5
As far-reaching, ambitious and encompassing as the titular of Karen Peck & New River's (KPNR) new Daywind Records "Hope for All Nations" is, so are the songs. With anthems that boldly proclaim the Lord's praises, country waltzes that allow us to bask in the warmth of the Savior's love, and soul-stirring orchestrated ballads that get our adrenaline pumped out with vigour for the Master, this is most diverse and far-reaching record of KPNR. Moreover, unlike many of their peers who are far too reliant on old hymns and the Southern Gospel songbook, "Hope for All Nations" boasts 9 brand new co-writes from Peck herself. A fleet that is getting rarer and rarer these days in Southern Gospel. Partnering with songwriters as diverse as Michael Farren, Kenna West, Rodney Griffin, Wayne Haun, and Lee Black, even with her co-writers you know KPNR has an enormous vision behind this project; a set that is bound to be the "hope of all nations."
KPNR is a 4-time Grammy Award Nominated and 4-time GMA Dove Award Winning Southern Gospel Group. They have had over 15 number one hits. Peck's flawless, delightful soprano voice has made its way into the hearts of Gospel Music lovers across the country and garnered an unprecedented 11 Favorite Soprano Fan Awards from the readers of The Singing News Magazine, Southern Gospel Music's leading fan and trade publication. In addition, their former album "Pray Now" featured the #1 song for October 2015 and garnered the Dove Award for Album of the Year.
The album opens on high gear with the sprightly country upbeat blazer "Love Will Never Give Up." A Jeff Bumgardner, Karen Peck Gooch and Joel Lindsey composition, the song reminds us that God doesn't abandon us in our despair. If catchiness can be personified, it would find its incarnation in the joyous "God's Got a Blessing." These pave the way for the string-laden title cut and current single "Hope for All Nations." Just like their former #1 single "Pray Now," "Hope" showcases the full palette of Peck's voice from her most tender moments to her glorious hold of those Mt. Everest high notes.
On the other hand, the banjo-infused "Who He is, What He Does, and the country-bluesy "Gotta Be Saved" don't derail too much from the standard fare of what we hear too often on Christian radio. They aren't ropey, but they are not exceptional either. Meanwhile, "I'll Keep on Praying" sounds like an outtake from their previous record, "Pray Now." The album picks up points again with the ballads. Partnering with Wayne Haun and Lee Black, the piano-led ballad "The Reason" focuses on Jesus as the raison de'tre of life. KPNR really excel with "I Know I'll Be There;" a fine treatise that gloriously weaves together the Scriptural themes of Christ's second coming and the assurance of salvation. "The River" (not the most original title), a hymn-like ballad of dependence on Jesus, also receives the thumbs up.
With songs that pushes the envelope in terms of style, co-writers and lyrical content, "Hope for All Nations" on many fronts live out to its title. More importantly, this project kicks off a campaign centered around global missions, beginning with KPNR's trip this summer to Honduras. Further, the decelerated family group is also teaming up with ChildFund to reach children around the globe.