Artist:  Melissa Greene
Title:  Next Step
Label:  Koch Records

Successful national debut from Avalon’s stellar soprano …

Melissa Greene is no stranger to Christian music. Spending several formative years as the standout soprano in the now-defunct, but legendary gospel music training ground known as Truth, Greene has spent her most recent history as one-fourth of the gold-selling powerhouse Avalon.

Combining the talents of a Who’s Who in Christian music songwriting team, Greene’s first major label solo effort hosts a framework of tightly-produced tracks to construct an eligible platform for Greene to demonstrate her solo chops, elevating Next Step from “just a side project” to a substantial CD release.

The title track employs the clever pop pens of Matthew West and Bernie Herms (as well as Greene’s) to kick off the record with a message of empowerment, backed by a soulful upright piano, funky horns and chorus of infectious dance beats.

“Imagine” applies the poetic genius of Cindy Morgan and pop/rock accessibility of Jason Ingram to beg the heavy questions before declaring the dream, “Can you imagine what the world could be/What love could change/Where arms could reach . . . no walls between/And hope is the language we all learn to speak?”

And though the songs are only strengthened by Greene’s strong interpretations, it isn’t until the CD’s last three tracks that she truly exercises the range of her artistry. “Revelation Song,” first made popular by worship leader Kari Jobe, is an epic proclamation of faith that suits Greene’s impressive pipes perfectly. “To Trust You” and “At Your Feet” practice constraint that contrasts the singer’s overused money notes, exampling a quiet control that would benefit her future recordings.

To say this album is a new artist debut ignores the years of faithful service Melissa Greene has already contributed to this industry. But Next Step does give us a peek into her substantial abilities and establishes an outlet for Greene to shine (and succeed) outside of her central Avalon duties.


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**This review first published on April 14, 2009.