REVIEW OF KARYN WILLIAMS ``ONLY YOU`` ALBUM
There are songs and then there are anthems. Anthems that is so revolutionary that within the confines of several bars of music, they have a way of channelling our hearts towards God with affecting permanence. Many of such paeans are so powerful because they were birthed out of the pangs of severe trials and tears; case in point being Steven Curtis Chapman's "I Will Trust You," a track written in the aftermath of his daughter Maria's death. Other songs with the same heart wrenching capacity include Laura Story's "Blessings," Darlene Zschech's "Cry of the Broken" and Natalie Grant's "Held." Now add Williams' lead single "Rest in the Hope" as another worthy candidate to this short list. Written as a response to her father Orlando Magic Founder's Pat Williams' bout with cancer, "Rest in the Hope" is a juggernaut of a ballad complete with lots of big-note opportunities nesting a soul-ravishing message about throwing ourselves before the feet of God in doughty trust in the midst of pain. This is the type of songs that will make a career out of this Florida native. And "Only You," her debut record, is choked with such signature tunes. Williams has been singing since 2007 when she relocated to Nashville. Her Natalie Grant-like soprano has a sweet vulnerability when she croons; yet when she soars she can go the heights of sonic Everest. This is why after just one independent record she was immediately picked up by Inpop Records. Now she joins the imprint rubbing shoulders with notables such as Jaci Velasquez, Tricia Brock, Jimmy Needham, Superchicks and Newsboys.
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Fans enthralled by the power of the lead single "Rest in the Hope," will immediately be drawn to "Waiting in the Rain." Covered in sackcloth and ashes, Williams makes no qualms that sometimes life can be so difficult that all we encounter are torrents of despair. Yet, with a Job-like faith, Williams knows that it doesn't take much for God to break us out of our grief; all we need is for him to "speak peace into my heart, with just one word I know the clouds will part." Continuing in the same big balladry format is the soul freeing piano piece "This is Freedom." With the haunting line "this is freedom nailed to the cross," Williams passionately reminds us that it is the Cross of Christ that opens up the prison doors of our guilt, sin and insecurities. Co-written with Sarah Hart (who wrote Amy Grant's GRAMMY winning "Better than a Hallelujah"), the title cut "Only You" is a pensive and a reflective love song to God backed only by a piano and light percussions.
Yet, not all is slow and balladry. Williams has the ability to cross pollinate across genres. Parlaying her potent vocals over a fierce rock/pop groove is the album opener "Call" where she challenges us about the importance of prayer. Then with some urban-pop affectations she goes all youthful with the extremely hip "Hey You." Donning a Bethany Dillon persona, Williams cruises along with suave and confidence on the modern-ish pop sounding "Every Good Thing." Most exciting though is the jazzy "Banner." Somehow similar to Steven Curtis Chapman's recent "Christmas Kisses," here
Williams kicks off her shoes for some jazz-lite fun celebrating the Father's love as a "banner over us" (Song of Songs 2:4).
Perhaps one of the most autobiographical songs is country-tinged Carrie Underwood -esque "Just May Be." Being the eldest daughter of a family of 19 where 14 of her siblings were adopted, adoption has a special place in Williams' heart. Telling the story of how a childless couple's prayers were answered via the adoption of a child from the Philippines, this is a gorgeous portrait of Godly love in action. While we are getting more and more monotonous releases these days where songs sound similar to each other, it is a problem you won't find here with Williams' debut. But more importantly, this is a record that only is a joy to listen to, but there are some songs that have a way of burning into our hearts drawing us closer to God especially in times of pain. This is what Godly music is all about and this is what Karyn Williams' "Only You" is all about.
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