Prime Cuts: 3:16 (No Greater Love), Lay It Down, Me
Overall Grade: 3/5
Mallary Hope's "Out of My Hands" is the type of album you want to turn out loud as you coast along for a day trip on a cool summer's day. The songs are as bright as the glaring sun. The beats are oven-baked crisp and the syncopated melodic lines are on so smooth and effortless that they are on cruise control. This is the type of accessible pop that CCM radio will automatically embrace. One would expect quite a few of the songs here to be on heavy rotation across radio stations in the ensuring months, And if you like grooving along with pop sizzles of Danny Gokey, Brandon Heath and 7eventh Time Down, this album is up your alley.
Her knack for churning up songs of such instantaneous likability did not come overnight. Over the last decade or more, Hope has had been a seasoned writer for many mainstream writers. Country artists such as Faith Hill, Darius Rucker and Lauren Alaina have all recorded songs Hope had had a hand in writing. In fact, when Hope started out, she was pining to be a country artist. So she signed a deal with MCA Nashville Records. During that tenure, Hope cut an EP "Love Live On" which produced two country top 50 entries. Nevertheless, the songs were not big enough to warrant longevity in the genre, so now Hope has decided to crossover to the CCM market when she was signed by Curb Records.
"Out of My Hands," Hope's CCM debut, contains 15 songs and 2 remixes, quite a towering affair relative to her 4-song country EP, released a decade again. Naturally, Hope has had a hand in co-writing all 17 entries. Best among the bunch is punchy pop-centric "3:16 (No Greater Love)." In this song, Hope presents poignant Kodak moments in her life where John 3:16 made a difference. Over a light metallic beat, the atmospheric title track "Out of My Hands" is a nice worship song of surrender. Hope puts her country music scribal skills to work with "Love More." Utilising concrete stories and examples, Hope shows us how we must still love even "when the kids in the backseat screaming/and your patience is running thin."
Hope is at her best when she becomes vulnerable. "Lay It Down," "Me" and "Home to the Water" are such examples. Her striking soprano and her tender nuances she exude over lyrics can really torpedo a song right into the heart. The acoustic version of "Lay It Down" is particularly piercing in this regard. Nevertheless, the album, with 17 songs, is far too long. Though there are some standout tracks, the rest of the record become too formulaic. On their own the songs are passable CCM offerings you would expect from radio, but when they are bunched together one after another, it's easy to loose track of the songs' individualities. This is often a perennial problem when singer-songwriters pen all of their songs.
Hope is an excellent singer and she is quite a good composer as the prime cuts testify. However, she has room to develop her skills so that her songs do not come from the manufacturing line. Rather, her songs become her own children each bearing his or her signature thumbprint.