Prime Cuts: Unshakable God, Grave Clothes, The Thing About a Valley
Overall Grade: 4/5
Steve Ladd packs in a punch in every syllable he articulates. There's such an embedded passionate in his vocals that you can't help but sit up and listen. Thus, if there's something you can't fault Steve Ladd, it's that he means every word he sings. "Come Up Clean" follows on the heels of 2017's "No Excuses, No Regrets." Both sets each contain only 6 songs. Perhaps, Ladd is buying into today's transient music world where consumers only cherry pick their songs rather than wade through a full 10-track album. To the chagrin of ardent fans who wish the project has more songs, Ladd makes this up by making sure each of these songs boom with passion and power.
Ladd is one of the few Southern Gospel artists who has the capacities of cross-pollinating genres in his music. You will find lots of African-American Gospel echoes on "I Never Lost Praise." The choir backed chorus and Ladd's soul-ish hollers make this track sound more Kirk Franklin than the Gaithers. Then he takes a head-on dive into classic pop terrain with the anthemic "Unshakable God." "Grave Clothes" has a pretty unique metallic bluegrass groove that is refreshing. Lyrically, the song is of note as it brings out a three dimensional personal realism from the story of the raising of Lazarus.
Lead single "The Thing About a Valley" finds its muse in 90s pop-country where the song's hook is so strong that it's a challenge not to want to sing along. Underneath its ear worm melody lies a message that needs to be heard: God never wastes the trials of our lives. "He Has Made a Way" continues to showcase Ladd's gorgeous powerhouse vocals as the sovereignty of God is celebrated. Jason Crabb shares the microphone with the title cut "Come Up Clean," which is a far too busy song to be enjoyed.
Though many genres and influences have been exhibited, there's a dearth of quieter moments on the record. One would , for instance, love to hear Ladd croon a worshipful piano ballad. The record, on the whole, is very upbeat and there is a huge outflow of adrenaline. This sends the album rocking. And if you like your Gospel music muscular, sturdy and animated, this disc won't disappoint.