Prime Cuts: Falling, What Do You Say, Without Your Love
It's not common for a member of a high profile group such as the Nelons to have the liberty, time and opportunity to do a solo project on the side. And when such opportunities avail, in an effort to accentuate their individualism, these artists often cut an album completely tangential to the music they were used to. When it comes to Amber Nelon Thompson's own solo record, given her youthfulness, one would have expected her to morph her Southern Gospel roots with shades of hip hop or avant-garde or even dance. But Thompson has avoided all such pitfalls. She establishes her individuality not through a change in her musical direction. Rather, through an ardent commitment to her craft allowing her power house vocal to take center stage in each of these four songs, Thompson shows us she deserves to be regarded as a consummate artist in her own rights.
"Without Your Love," released by Daywind Records, is an EP containing 4 newly recorded songs. Thompson, for the unacquainted, is part of the family quartet known as the Nelons. Together, Rex, Kelly, Jason and Amber Nelon have had been a mainstay in Southern Gospel Music. With 3 Grammys, 6 Dove Music Awards, they have carved for themselves a niche where countless numbers of fans from all over the globe would congregate to hear them at their 150 concerts each year. Though Amber Nelon Thompson has very much kept to the same template as the Nelons this doesn't mean she is circumvented in offering fresh and engaging perspectives to her songs. The EP opens with "What Do You Say;" this song is a slice of life. All of us who have had live life a little know that unexpected circumstances happen, be it a teenage girl discovering that she's pregnant or a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. "What Do You Say" plucks at our hearts as it captures the complexities of emotions we feel in the aftermath of such devastating events.
"Grateful," with its lightning speed Keith Urban-esque banjo licks, is a country pop burner where Thompson itineraries a list of events of which she is thankful to God for. Most poignant in such a list is her thanks to God for her unanswered prayers. Teaming up with fellow label mate and stalwart writer Joseph Habedank is the soaring piano-based ballad "Without Your Love." While "Falling," the lead single from this EP, is prided for the song's attention to details. "Falling" tells of how God's perspective of life is vastly dissimilar to our myopic (and faithless) view. By giving example after example of how God's view is ultimately much more gracious and hopeful, this song drills in us the powerful words of the prophet Isaiah that God's ways are indeed higher than ours.
If there's any criticism of this EP, it's that it only contains four songs and the entire affair only clocks in at less than 17 minutes. One would wish that if Thompson were to grace us with another solo endeavor, she would at least give us an entire album worth of songs.
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