Prime Cuts: Prayer, Yeah, Repay (Featuring PJ Morton)
It's difficult to be objective after hearing the song "Prayer." Though segueing mid-way through Chanel's brand new debut solo album "Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel," it's the type of song that can sweep your soul off in a matter of a few bars. For those who of us who have been baffled by life's curve balls, the piano accompanied "Prayer" gives articulation to the desperations we have intimately kept in our hearts but we dare not voice. But most winsome is Chanel's delivery. Nothing rehearsed or manufactured, you can even hear Chanel's breathy pauses as she scurry to collect her emotions after each emotional plea. Chanel doesn't sound real; she is real in the way she pours out her heart and soul on what is arguably a masterpiece of prayer set to music.
For fans of Gospel music, Chanel Haynes needs no introduction. She's part of Gospel music's best selling trio Trin-i-tee 5:7. Together, they have been nominated for almost every award imaginable. Under their belt are numerous Grammy Award Nominations, Dove Awards and Stellar Gospel accolades. And nowadays it is a challenge not to hear one of their hits (such as "Holla," "Over and Over," "Listen" and "Heaven Hear My Heart") being played on Gospel radio. However, after 7 studio albums and selling over 1.7 records for the last 17 years, the ladies have decided to take a hiatus.
After an initial release date being set for late last year, we finally see the release of Chanel's solo debut record "Trin-i-tee 5:7 According to Chanel." Those who are piquant would immediately pick up the fact that all the 13 songs on this set feature a single word title. This is purposely crafted so that each of these songs is tightly focused on one theme. Sonically, Chanel allows her powerhouse vocals to traverse through quite an itinerary of musical grounds. Partnering once again with Maroon5's PJ Morton as the song's writer and co-lead vocalist, "Repay" certainly has potential for lots of crossover appeal from Gospel to AC and to pop. "He," on the other hand, finds Chanel going back to the funky Motown days of Aretha Franklin and Al Green where Jesus is gorgeously depicted as the ultimate man who doesn't disappoint. "Yeah," with its traditional Gospel call and response, turns the tables around. This time it is Jesus asking us if we could be trusted; the questions and answers somehow remind us of that moving scene between Jesus and Peter in John 21.
More pages of her autobiography are detailed in songs such as "Superstar" and "Friends." "Superstar," based on Chanel's own life experiences, is quip with lots of advice for any aspiring star wanting to be part of the entertainment industry. Evidenced that there are no sourness budding between her and her Trin-i-Tee 5;7 sisters, "Friends" is a joyous celebration of that bonding. Deeply personal, effortlessly authentic and diversely encompassing, this debut record is all we have come to expect from Chanel and more.