As (possibly) the most-popular mixed trio in Southern Gospel music, Karen Peck & New River team with veteran producer, Wayne Haun, to create another musical journey with Revival. The latest project includes a variety of styles that describe the musical journey the group has taken since their award-winning 2011 release, Reach Out. In addition to the musical styles, lead vocalist, Karen Peck Gooch, offers her songwriting experience on several tunes.
The title cut, “Revival”, kicks off the project with a building excitement in the entire project. The song describes the county-line revivals that swept through the South. Although the song describes the typical revival experience with a desire for revival, the baptism experience in the song is a victim of poor wording. The line, “Go down a sinner, come up a saint,” follows the description of going down to the river for baptism. This builds on the incorrect theology of baptism as the salvation experience.
As the project continues, listeners are treated to an interesting praise lyric, “Oh, Hallelujah.” Although the song uses the typical formula for a P&W song, the tune isn’t exactly unique to separate it from the typical mold. “Finish Well” is an excellent tune that encourages the typical Christian. Karen Peck Gooch evokes an emotional agreement due to the song’s lyrical approach. Similar to a previous hit, “Why Can’t All God’s Children Get Along?”, “Everybody’s Going through Something” offers a universal theme with a unique perspective. The song goes beyond describing the difficult experiences the typical person endures; this offers a solution.
Jeff Hawes presents a thoughtful approach to the salvation experience with “Dancing like Lazarus.” The song extends metaphors to express the conversion experience. Karen Peck Gooch stirs emotions with the humble tune, “Jesus, Remember Me.” The song follows the outline of familiar thoughts while not sounding too simple or too frequently-used. Susan Peck Jackson renders one of the strongest tunes, “I’ve Been Broken.” The Gospel/Inspirational tune uses intricate harmonies to describe a familiar experience of feeling brokenness.
The group picks up the pace with a rapid cover of the Walt Mills/Tanya Goodman classic, “Joy in My Heart.” This song is no stranger to KP&NR due to their performing the song on 2 different Gaither videos, I’ll Fly Away and Joy in My Heart. The cover manages to communicate the energy/excitement that those previous performances render. With the exciting key changes and vocal stacking, this tune will be interesting to experience in live concert. In contrast to the high energy, Jeff Hawes steps up to sing “You Did It Anyway.” This performance shows Hawes’s growth as a communicator in addition to a great vocalist. The project concludes with an up-tempo selection, “I’m Saved.” Though not the same as the Susan Jackson feature from nearly a decade ago, this tune sounds like a song welcome to the group’s earlier projects with its musical interlude and style.
As Karen Peck & New River produce high-quality albums, they often face the task of conquering the success of the previous mainline release while building upon those experiences. Their Reach Out project offered their first 2 Dove awards in 2012 as well as 2 #1 songs. The group’s newest release, Revival, has approximately 2 or 3 top 5 hits with a likely #1 song (“Revival” – October debut at #25). However, the project suffers from a topical mess-up. The tune, “Finish Well,” is an excellent tune on the project. However, due to its theme of finishing/completing a task, the obvious place would be last. Also, the last tune, “I’m Saved” seems awkward at the end of the recording. Switching these tunes’ places give the project a smoother flow. However, the fresh lyrics and not-so-obvious relevance give this project an interesting presence among 2013’s best releases.
Picks: I’ve Been Broken, Finish Well, You Did It Anyway, Joy in My Heart
Misses: I’m Saved, Oh, Hallelujah
Producer: Wayne Haun
Track List: Revival, Oh Hallelujah, Finish Well, Everybody’s Going through Something, Dancing like Lazarus, Jesus Remember Me, I’ve Been Broken, Joy in My Heart, You Did It Anyway, I’m Saved