Prime Cuts: Breakthrough, The Highest Praise, Nothing Between
If worship albums are about God, in accessing them, we need to ask, how is God presented throughout the album? Some discs are so overwrought with clichés and overused lines that God comes across as unauthentic, distant, and second hand. Then there are other records that are so reticent in situating God as He is revealed in Scripture that God comes like the model hunk of the best romance novels with those invincible qualities that most women swoon over. So, how is God presented in the Temple of Deliverance's latest release "In the Sanctuary"? With its vintage worship steeped in the teachings of Scripture yet overflowing through an array of self-spiritual reflection, God is presented as transcendent in his awesome glory as well as intimate enough to care for the down cast and the lonely.
The Temple of Deliverance Women's Choir is a 200+ voice choir coming from the historic Memphis church founded by the late Bishop G.E. Patterson as Bountiful Blessings Church in 1975. Aside from being a superior preacher, Bishop Patterson was also known for his spirited traditional gospel recordings of standards such as "My Record Will Be There" and "Inside the Gate." Currently led by pastor, Superintendent Milton R. Hawkins, this CD came about under his aegis. Recorded live, these 12 songs are produced by noted musician/ composer Derrick Starks and features the choir performing with soloists such as Grammy Award winner Karen Clark Sheard (tagging the end of "Breakthrough"), Tamela Mann (performing "Have Thine Own Way") and veteran vocalist Lisa Page Brooks (performing "Keep Me All the Way").
With the veritable injection of high-octane estrogen, the CD opens on a transcendent note with the 200+ voice ladies offering a thumping praise belter "The Highest Praise." This is followed by the reflective "This Morning." In our ostensible pride and ingratitude, how many of us have actually passed at the beginning of the day just to praise God for life and another new day? "This Morning" is soul searching in the sense that it helps us in our articulation of remembering to say thanks just for another new day. Carla Tolbert Taylor leads the choir on the Top 20 Billboard Gospel "Everyday Praise;" a song that will go down as one of the choir's catalogue treasure as a paradigm of how a choir anthem ought to sound like.
The album's buzz song is none other than the current single "Breakthrough." Featuring the power house vocals of Angelique Starks and Gospel legend Karen Clark Sheard testifying at the end of the song, "Breakthrough" is a song for all of us who have had road blocks in our lives before. The way the song speaks of God's explosive power calls me mind how God used to work in the book of Acts. Tamela Mann, who is one of Gospel Music biggest (and latest) find, offers the hymn-like ballad "Have Thine Own Way)," while the transparent piano-driven "Nothing Between" is worship at its purest best. If you want to re-acquaint with God, who is both majestic as well as loving, do yourself a favor, give this disc a spin.