Reba McEntire Uplifts On ‘Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope’
Country superstar Reba McEntire returns in 2017 with a country-gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.
Veteran country superstar Reba McEntire returns in 2017 with a country-gospel album, Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. A double-disc affair, the first disc of Sing It Now focuses on the classics – the hymns that shaped Reba. The second disc expands the effort, featuring newly penned inspirational songs. All in all, McEntire delivers a well-rounded effort.
“Jesus Loves Me” radiantly initiates Sing It Now. McEntire flaunts her signature, countrified tone, initially singing a cappella. Once the full production work enters in, the childhood hymn retains simplicity. Ultimately, it’s a fitting opener.
“Oh, How I Love Jesus”
“Oh, How I Love Jesus” follows, featuring a thoughtful, foreshadowing intro. Foreshadowing the forthcoming energy proves to be a great touch, eliminating the typical blasé introduction to the beloved hymn. The soundness of the record doesn’t stop at the intro. Throughout its course, superb country-gospel production work propels the overall performance. The result is a well-rounded record that plays true to Reba’s roots. The crème de la crème is clearly the timeless, beautiful refrain: “Oh how I love Jesus.”
“Oh Happy Day”
“When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” is well-produced and ultimately, superbly executed. Interestingly, the production eschews percussion, relying predominantly on piano and harmonized vocals. The results are pleasant; reverent. “Oh Happy Day” delivers a funky blend of country and gospel. Beyond tour de force “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” Reba has another exceptional gospel song to flex her musicianship. The record naturally takes it time to percolate on the verse ahead of the chorus. The chorus is powerful, featuring jubilant horns and superb choral vocals. As awesome as the production is, the best attribute of the gospel gem is Reba’s voice.
“Amazing Grace” is one of the most performed hymns on traditional gospel albums. McEntire delivers another respectable cover of the gem, but it’s clearly less moving than the crème de la crème. “I’ll Fly Away” amplifies the energy level once more, delivering a rollicking rendition of the invitational hymn.
Two sound medleys follow: “In the Garden / Wonderful Peace” featuring The Isaacs and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot / Swing Down Chariot.” Interestingly on Reba eliminates predictability on both performances by intertwining the two classics. “In the Garden / Wonderful Peace” is naturally the bigger stretch, but is ultimately successful without a hitch. The fast tempo switch-up on “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” is unique, following a slower, dramatic intro.
“Softly and Tenderly”
“How Great Thou Art” serves as the penultimate record of the first disc. For the most part, McEntire gives the beloved, if irregular hymn a straight-ahead performance. The only noticeable risk is adding a colorful note or two, coupled with her inescapable country twang. On closer “Softly and Tenderly,” she enlists the services of Kelly Clarkson and Trisha Yearwood. Expectedly, the results are winning.
“Sing It Now”
Disc two switches from classics to inspirational originals. Fittingly, title track “Sing It Now” kicks things off. Reba recollects on her spiritual journey. All in all, she confirms her belief in God: “But if I could sing it now / I can still sing it now.” Follow up “Angels Singin’” may have angelic aspirations, but it’s set in a minor key. Interestingly, the song has a folksy, singer/songwriter vibe that transcends Christian music. The only rub is that it takes a little too long to percolate, lacking an epic climax.
“God and My Girlfriends”
“God and My Girlfriends” has a predictable script, but the results are respectable through and through. Country musicians are more likely than the pop musicians to reference God, so this type of record is common. Reba is thankful for both. Her gratitude continues on the jubilant “Hallelujah, Amen,” where she proclaims, “Hallelujah, for the heartache / Hallelujah, for the good days.”
“There Is a God”
“There Is a God” channels the power of faith – ah “faith the size of a mustard seed.” Throughout the verses, Reba focuses on the simple things in life, and how amazing and beautiful they are. On the chorus, she attributes these things to God: “There is a God / How much proof do you need?” Smartly, the funky “I Got the Lord on My Side” picks up the intensity level. The lyrics are uncomplicated but feel-good, Christian music.
“Back to God”
“Back to God” ranks among the most moving moments of Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. With all the problems that plague the world, Reba asserts, “We gotta give this world / Back to God.” This is a song that certainly appeals to the Christian base, embracing the power of faith and prayer above all. “Angel on my Shoulder” maintains the trend of ballad followed by a dynamic, electrifying record. On “Angel,” the production is top-notch, led by exuberant brass.
On penultimate record “From the Inside Out,” Reba looks for spiritual redemption. The harmonic scheme is among the selling points (music theory nerds). “Say a Prayer” concludes spiritedly, finding McEntire relying on the power of prayer, as well as petitioning for prayer herself. Bombastic, “Say A Prayer” actually concludes reverently with a short reprisal of “Jesus Loves Me.”
All in all, Reba McEntire shines on Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. The effort isn’t the second coming, but it is pleasant and well-rounded. The messaging by McEntire is pitch-perfect, particularly on gems like “There is a God” and “Back to God.” Vocally, she sounds magnificent.
Gems: “Oh, How I Love Jesus,” “Oh Happy Day,” “Softly and Tenderly,” “Sing It Now,” “God and My Girlfriends,” “There Is a God,” “Back to God”