August 27, 2013 marks the official release date of Karen Peck and New River’s new project, Revival. Since the trios start in 1991, KPNR has soared on the wings of success with three Grammy Award Nominations, five consecutive #1 songs over the past four years and two GMA Dove Awards for the their 2011 release, Reach Out: Country Song of the Year (Good Things Are Happening) and Southern Gospel Album of the Year. It’s tempting to think it would be impossible to produce a project that could follow the success of Reach Out, yet, with the material on Revival, impossible may not be as difficult as one thinks. KPNR has had a knack for recording songs that are anointed and Revival is no exception. Filled with songs that are powerful and full of inspiring lyrics, every tune will raise your spirits. I purchased a pre-release of this CD at the Gatlinburg Gathering and fell in love with the songs the first time I listened through them. This is one of those CD’s that you will listen to again and again, never skipping a track.
The songs: The phrase “this song was powerful” will be stated more than once or twice in this review…and that’s because it’s true. As someone once said, it will get you so fired up you’ll want to charge the gates of Hell with a squirt gun and be convinced you’ll conquer it. *wink* Overall, they form a collection of tunes that will keep you counting your blessings, tapping your toes and pressing on in your Christian walk.
The style: Fans of KPNR will embrace every sound on this recording. After listening to this CD many times, I’ve come to the conclusion that these ten songs showcase some of the best music we’ve heard from New River yet. Every style you’ve heard them incorporate in the past is polished to perfection on Revival. The two ballads “Finish Well” and “Jesus, Remember Me” feature Karen and remind me of “I Want To Thank You” and “My God Will Always Be Enough.” One’s a power house and the other soft and reverent; but they both showcase Karen’s ability to perform both types of ballads flawlessly. I also liked how Susan and Jeff were each featured on both a fast and slow song.
The success: I believe this project will go over very well for KPNR. It keeps their style pressing forward ever so slightly, yet, touches base with the kind of music you’ve grown to love from this trio. There are many songs from this recording that are number one quality. Actually, I’d be hard pressed to point out one that doesn’t fall into that category!
Feature: Karen Peck Gooch
Message: The scenes that we would associate with an old fashion revival fill the first verse: a canvas tent, folding chairs, red back hymnals and preachers pouring out the Scriptures all afternoon. The chorus captures the reason for such a gathering…to “Shout the glory down.” To get the church back to the kind of faith that shakes the earth, that shares testimonies and isn’t afraid to lift their hands up in praise. In the second verse, the next part of revival comes before our eyes – baptism. The kind that takes you down to the river where Believers are clothed in white and it’s declared that “All things are passed away, behold, all things are made new.”
Other Comments: The music on this one kind of reminds me of the first track to their last recording! (Mighty Big God from Reach Out.) It’s a good up-beat song that takes us back to the days when revivals were the “in” thing. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to revisit those days, would it?
2. Oh, Hallelujah
Feature: Karen Peck Gooch
Message: The splendor of creation is the subject of this song. The glory of God surrounds us everywhere we look and when we pause to search out His presence on earth, we find His fingerprints cover the universe. The chorus sings to us an appropriate response to such a discovery in one simple word – hallelujah. And that’s what I’ll keep singing… Like a painter who stokes a brush over the canvas, we see that the Lord did just that in the flowers and trees. The beauty there can’t compare! The bridge takes that thought and tells us that just as He has displayed creation, He’s done the same with His love for us – if only we have the willingness to look and see it.
Other Comments: This number is very up-beat and powerful in its own way. It reminds us to look around and enjoy what the Lord made in our surroundings. I thought this song was very well written – the word pictures made me smile, I especially like the one in the second verse about the “flowers and trees,” when you hear it, you’ll know why.
3. Finish Well
Feature: Karen Peck Gooch
Message: The lyrics of this song exhort the Christian to press on through this life with faithfulness…and finish well. Verse one anticipates that time when the saints will bow before the throne and lay their crowns at His feet. To hear His voice say, “Well done” and to look upon His face – how wonderful that day will be! Yet, while we’re still down here working and waiting…finish well. Not just the final leg of the race, but as the chorus tells us, finish every day well. Be strong until we hear the call from heaven and give each day everything we can! The second verse reminds us that our better days are ahead – be brave, lift His banner high no matter what the price and follow the path He has forged to bring honor to His name.
Other Comments: Power ballad. Finish Well is the first (but definitely not the last) power ballad on Revival. Karen’s soprano delivers the verses and the orchestration keeps the message building until the climatic ending. I really hope this one makes it to KPNR’s nightly program – not only would it go over well, it would encourage the church not to give up, but keep pressing on.
4. Everybody’s Going Through Something
Feature: Susan, Jeff, Karen
Message: The title tells it all – this is a song that looks not only at what we’re going through, but others as well. With this in mind, in the first verse we hear different voices that relate how the storms of life are blowing over folks they know…like the neighbor that’s close to losing everything, the man who’s broken and trying to regain his footing on life, and then there’s “me,” with my own pile of problems. The chorus softly reminds us that everyone has a trial to face and a storm to ride out. Yet, when the Believer comes to that place, they smile and sing the “hook” of this tune ~ “I’d rather go through something with Him.” The second verse relays that it’s natural for trials to come in this life but we are blessed to know that we’ll never walk a step alone because the Lord is always with us and when we place our trust in Him, we don’t have to be afraid because He will guide us through.
Other Comments: This is such a powerful song and I just know it will go over great live! Not only are the lyrics perfect for the days we live in, they remind us to keep our eyes on the Lord and trust Him. The music is mellow and “easy listening” – Susan begins each verse and then a few lines later Jeff takes the lead and Karen sings the last few lines, and then they all join in for the chorus. I like how the vocals break up the verses like that – it fits the lyrics and the message well.
5. Dancing Like Lazarus
Feature: Jeff Hawes
Message: This song uses a unique concept to depict life after salvation. To those who haven’t crossed paths with this one in some time, well, they notice the difference. As the first verse says, “Jesus turned my life around,” and goes on to say that because of it, everything changed. The chorus uses stories from the New Testament to describe how they feel now that they know the Lord: how the blind man must have sung when he received his sight, how Jarious must have laughed when he watched his daughter play again and how Lazarus must have danced when his grave clothes…were no longer needed! The second verse talks about that difference: how a darkened soul can have light, a hard heart thankfulness and a soiled past forgiveness.
Other Comments: With a touch of Country and Bluegrass in the track, it’s no wonder that you’ll hear a little “grass” in the vocal styling at the end when the group does a vocal jump you’d probably expect from the Isaacs, yet, pulled off by KPNR without a hitch. While we’re talking about voices, this fun tune was made for Jeff’s voice. When you hear him sing it, I’m sure you’ll agree.
6. Jesus, Remember Me
Feature: Karen Peck Gooch
Message: “As You’re looking down from heaven, all the millions you must see…Jesus, remember me,” are the words you’ll hear at the close of the chorus and will continue to hear in your soul even after the CD is put away. As the first verse begins, we see a picture of the heavenly throne where the Son and Father sit talking – and a earthly voice whispers, “Jesus, remember me.” With the next few lines another scene appears – one with a aching heart – and that small voice asking, “Jesus, remember me.” The chorus recalls His faithfulness from the past, the sin He forgave and knowing how great a God He is. Yet, with all the others He cares for on a daily basis the plea remains, “Jesus, remember me.” The second verse keeps on naming situations and circumstances where we need the Lords help. And though we know He hears every prayer sometimes we just feel lost, says the bridge, and we need a touch from above. Kind of like the thief on the cross, who wasn’t afraid to ask, “Jesus, remember me.”
Other Comments: This is such a sweet song. Not only does the message touch the heart, the whole feel of the ballad is peaceful and tranquil. Sometimes, as the strings gently slide from one note to the other and the piano is softly played, Karen’s voice sounds like a whisper – and it adds so much to how the song captivates the ears of those who listen. Simply beautiful.
7. I’ve Been Broken
Feature: Susan Peck Jackson
Message: The mournful reality of being broken and the hopeful optimism of receiving Gods blessings in spite of it fill this song with a message Christians can relate to. Beginning with the chorus, the message simply says that even though we’ve been beaten down and defeated, we have been blessed beyond measure by the promises of God. The psalmist said that God desires a broken and contrite heart, in the first verse, that’s what God chose to use. In return, we can agree that whatever lies ahead of us is worth so much more than what we’re leaving behind. The second verse goes on to encourage those who question the trial they are in to keep the faith and stand on the Word. God is faithful and changes not – He will see you through!
Other Comments: The style of this number is that good old “Black Gospel.” It always amazes me how this style of music can capture the sadness and gloom in the notes, yet, turn it around to a positive, resonating sound that makes you so happy in the end!
8. Joy In My Heart
Message: The theme? Joy! First, we hear how this one who was trekking in a life of sin found a friend in Jesus. Suddenly, the things from the world that were so desirable before were replaced with a passion for a new goal and now life is filled with a new sensation…Joy! The next part of the song goes on to say that this joy has flooded every part of their being: their heart, mind, hands and feet. In multiple voices the chorus has one message: joy. With their focus on Him, their minds settled and hearts steadfast that nothing will turn them away from Him, the beat keeps thumping to the joy in their soul!
Other Comments: The first time I heard this tune was when the trio HisSong had it released to radio and it was one of my favorites. Needless to say, I love KPNR’s version! You can’t listen to this song without a smile on your face! Of course, I’m a big fan of the piano in the intro and “encore.” wink
9. You Did It Anyway
Feature: Jeff Hawes
Message: It’s amazing to think that when Jesus paid for our sin on the cross, He knew the agony he would feel…but He did it anyway. Those thoughts make up the lines in this ballad. The opening verse considers how the Lord knelt in Gethsemane and prayed that the cup would pass from Him, yet, knowing the anguish that awaited on the cross and that the Father would turn His face away – He still went. The chorus takes that truth to the next level and goes on to proclaim that Jesus walked up the path to Calvary anyway. As a result, freedom still rings in the hearts of any who will come to Him. What a wondrous thought, that One would know the price and still go through it all, for someone like me. The second verse continues the thoughts of verse one by listing more things He knew would happen…how that His closest companions would leave Him, but more heartbreaking, there would be some who would never except salvation. The bridge captures the whole message in a few words, and that is, He knew that you and I couldn’t measure up and instead of answering a call of duty, His love lead Him to the cross.
Other Comments: Some songs demand a powerful track to bring out the full potential in the lyrics and then there are others that just need room for the vocals to work their magic. This song falls under that last category: with a light pluck on the guitar and some smooth strings, Jeff takes the solo at a quiet, almost reverent rate. Which makes it perfect.
10. I’m Saved
Feature: Karen Peck Gooch
Message: This is a good “testimony” song written in first person by someone who wants to declare that they’re saved. The first verse sets us on a highway that starts at Calvary and winds all the way down to an eight year old, life changing prayer. Years later, that same one who prayed in child like faith is singing the chorus of this number. It simply says, “I’m saved! By His glorious grace my heart has been set free! I’m saved! Now I sing, ‘Hallelujah, I’ve been redeemed.’” It doesn’t matter what your station is in life, says the second verse, everyone can find eternal life by confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that His Word is true.
Other Comments: Such a fun, yet, serious song! You’ll notice some fiddle playin’ in the intro, turn around and towards the end where there’s a little “solo” from 2:05 to 2:17 that I know you’ll enjoy!
Conclusion: I love this project! It remains true to the style that Karen Peck and New River has built in the past and the songs are well written and uplifting. The solos were well balanced, featuring Karen four times, Jeff twice, Susan twice and a few that showcase the trio as a whole. Revival is a must have in my opinion! It’s becoming a favorite on my MP3 player, why don’t you mark your calendar for August 27th and purchase a copy so it can be one of yours too?