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Brenda Lowe: Somebody Somewhere Was Praying For Me
Sound/Style: Unrestrained, solidly performed traditional gospel music
By Steve Morley
(UMCom) -- God provides us with papayas and jalapeno peppers, lemons and pears, onions and grapefruit – a cornucopia of seeming incompatibility when one has only his or her own tastes in mind. We’re also offered a bountiful banquet when it comes to praise and worship music, and no one should be expected to enjoy every dish equally. Neither, however, should that music’s creators be encouraged to homogenize the menu into a one-flavor-fits-all puree. Man does not live on vanilla pudding alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. If you can say "amen" to that, you’ll want to get yourself a plate of the spirit-and-soul food served up by Brenda Lowe on Somebody Somewhere Was Praying For Me.
There’s little here to distinguish the seasoned singer, an independent and unsigned artist, from her more widely known peers. Every element of the record is of a fully professional caliber, with equal credit due to Lowe, the contributing musicians and the up-and-coming Alpha 7 production team. And while traditional gospel music sometimes allows fervency and instinct to carry more weight than collective musicianship, musical integrity and spirit-fueled spunk run neck-and-neck on all nine tracks. Lowe demonstrates a versatile dynamic range, from the just-above-a-whisper "I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel" to the spontaneous and sandpapery shout-outs on the rhythmically freestyle "It’s In The Word." The material inside those two extremes, though, proves to be the disc’s cement, as songs like "Look How Far The Lord Has Brought Us" and the lively two-step "Send Me I’ll Go" hold up especially well to repeated listenings.
The record, while a suitable showcase for Lowe’s gifts, is just as much an ensemble work, prominently featuring a small, crisp choir and a steaming engine of a backing band, occasionally enhanced by synthesized orchestrations. The collection of songs encompasses themes of gratitude, servanthood, faith and affirmation, and it stands essentially as a review of Bible basics that offers comfort and encouragement within a standard gospel format. As such, it breaks no new ground to speak of. Still, you need not reinvent the lamp before putting it on a lampstand, and on Somebody Somewhere Was Praying For Me, Lowe and company do substantial damage to the darkness.
Steve Morley is a freelance music journalist living in College Grove, Tenn.
This review was developed by UMC.org, the official online ministry of the United Methodist Church.