Prime Cuts: What If He Meant What He Said?, I Know When I'm Hearing from Home, Didn't I Walk on Water?
Overall Grade: 4/5
There's a strong pedagogical element to Mark Lowry's brand new Daywind Records release "What's Not to Love?" These days, few and far in between are the records that do more than just entertain. This album is a rare exception. These songs actually teach us new and refreshing truths about God and His Word. With 4 out of the 11 cuts here having titulars phrased as questions, these songs challenge our preconceptions, before expanding up our mental and spiritual vestiges to God's deeper truths. This by itself is the greatest compliment one could say about a Christian record.
Lowry started making music at age 11 and now, more than four decades later, his legacy is forever sealed as an innately entertaining communicator who can, at once, make audiences laugh, cry, and think. For many years, Lowry was part of the GRAMMY-Award winning Gaither Vocal Band and he was also an integral part of the best-selling Gaither Homecoming video & television series. He is best known for being the singer and co-writer of the platinum selling Christmas classic "Mary Did You Know?" Besides his countless Southern Gospel releases, he has also been known for his comedy acts where he has had served as the sidesplitting comedic sidekick for Bill Gaither through live concert tours for many years.
"What's Not to Love?" is a purely musical output without any stand-up comedy bits. Nine of the eleven songs on "What's Not To Love?" were co-written by Reba Rambo-McGuire and Dony McGuire including four with Lowry. This includes album opener "Why Don't We Sit and Talk?" Featuring a frantic harmonica and a delightful call-and-response choir, the song has a doo-wop rock n' roll wrapping to it that is scintillating. "Why Don't We Sit and Talk?" sets the tenure of the record: this song invites us to talk about the goodness of the Lord with an open mind. "Love is the Golden Rule" (also covered by Michael English) really opens up our minds as to how Matt 7:12 has fresh applications from world peace to domestic disputes.
If you are struggling with unforgiveness, by the time the flowing ballad "What If He Meant What He Said?" is over, all clutched fists would be opened. Melodically superior and without sounding like a dirge is the heavenly-themed "I Know When I'm Hearing from Home." Southern Gospel music purists may not like the drum machine pulsating behind "Didn't I Walk on Water?" Nevertheless, this track is sublime: weaving so much of Scripture as support, Lowry makes a solid case as to why Jesus is trustworthy. Taking the promises of Jesus and driving them home to our lives with piquant specifications, this is a must-hear.
Despite being a top-notched album, it's not without minor flaws. I will briefly touch on a couple by way of conclusion: first, "Only Jesus," the album's penultimate track, tries to bring the album to a majestic big crescendo. But somehow the song is too hymn-like and not striking enough to incur much enthusiasm. Second,with Reba Rambo-McGuire, Dony McGuire and Lowry handling the lion's share of the writing, some tracks are redundant. For instance, after "Love is the Golden Rule," we don't need "No Room for Hate" which shares a similar theme. And with "So You'll Know to Pray," do we need another song on prayer ("Mama Prayed")?