It might be easy to dismiss the latest project from Reba McEntire as one to appeal to fans who have been with her since the beginning. Many veteran artists have released Gospel-themed projects in the latter part of their careers, so that line of thinking would be reasonable.
However, if you are a fan of Reba, you know that this album is far from lip service. A look back into her recording history, and you see such album cuts as “Suddenly There’s A Valley,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” and “Sky Full Of Angels” – all of which contain inspirational lyrics about drawing near to a higher power. She has hinted at a Gospel project for years, dating back to the late 1980s, so this isn’t really such a departure for the iconic performer.
Disc one of this set features her take on some of the standards that have been a part of our lives for years. Whether it be “Jesus Loves Me,” “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” or “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” there’s a warmth and reassurance to these tracks that remind the listener that no matter your age – or lot in life – there’s always something to hold on to that draws us closer. Perhaps most moving is her simple, yet beautiful, performance on “Amazing Grace.” It’s a song that has performed hundreds – make that thousands – of times, and the singer definitely draws the emotion from the lyrics, making for one of her greatest performances.
On disc two, the Oklahoma native loses none of her passion on the disc of original songs. “Sing It Now” makes for a perfect segueway from the standards to the newer material. The song is a reminder that though the age might change, and life can make you feel downtrodden to the point that clinging to the past is the last thing you want to do, the lifeline is still there. “Angels Singin,” is another highlight, where the singer gives thanks to the unseen forces that keep us upright when we might not have the energy to do so. “I Got The Lord On My Side” gives her a chance to show her groove just a little bit with a song that should inspire many a sing-a-long. “There Is A God” stands as one of the most thought-provoking lyrics on the set. Originally recorded by Lee Ann Womack, McEntire lets the lyrics tell the story about the mystery of life – and how there simply has to be something bigger than us at play in life.
Whether it be the “Faith” or the “Hope” disc, each of these cuts resonate with hope and peace. Life has a way of knocking us down the ladder a few times, and I don’t know whether she could have approached the lyrical content the same way, say twenty years ago. The fact that the legendary songstress has lived through life, and survived some of the hardest knocks one can go through shows the timeless power of these songs. On this album, McEntire demonstrates that in a manner that will touch the listener for years to come!