Dwell in the House
- reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Ron Kenoly has graced the Hosanna! Music label for the last decade with his inspiring live performances and the invention of many church classics. In doing so, he's been able to reach out to all walks of life with his variety of styles and simple, down-to-earth lyrics. Kenoly was also an important artist throughout the 90s, making praise and worship music more accessible to listeners. Instead of saving worship songs only for Sundays, he, along with others such as Don Moen, Darlene Zschech, and Tommy Walker, made it possible for people to listen to worship music in their cars on the way to work or throughout the day at home.
Kenoly is a veteran in the music industry and also has had a full life outside of the business. During his young adult years, he served in the United States Air Force, where he met his wife Tavita. He tended to his musical interests during those years by performing with the Mellow Fellows, a band that played Top 40 music during the 1960s. After his wife rededicated her life to the Lord in 1975, Ron returned to school for a degree in music at Alameda College in Oakland, California. He and his wife settled into Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, where he sang in the choir. With his service-stopping performances at church, he gained a lot of parish and local attention, eventually signing to a Christian record deal. However, it wasn't until more than a decade later that he would be blessed with the opportunity to take his worship style all across America, thanks to his contact with Don Moen. Moen wanted to record one of Kenoly's services, and from then to now, Kenoly's had the opportunity to record 9 albums and lead worship at churches all over the globe!
His latest, Dwell in the House, is a first for Kenoly in the fact that it's a studio recording rather than a live worship experience. This gives listeners the chance to hear him loud and clear without the constant sea of choir voices. This dozen-song collection starts off with the funk-infused title cut, followed by the easy-sounding "Seek Your Face." The latter sounds as though it could fit the mold of any contemporary pop station, rather than just an inspirational format. The project's highlight, "You Are," comes early in the disc. The ballad features Kenoly singing with Hillsong's very own Darlene Zschech, a duo last heard together on a triumphant live version of "Shout to the Lord." "You Are" is destined to stir similar reactions with its classic feel and simple yet poignant chorus: "You are the love of my life/ You are the hope that I cling to/ You mean more than this world to me."
Kenoly also stands out on his bluesy cover of Bill Wither's "Grandma's Hands," while "Praise Him" features the background vocal assistance of singer/songwriter and session player Chris Rodriguez. The song is a funky jam, complete with a horn section and lots of bass action. As Kenoly shouts "Get on your feet, come on," you'll want to lift up your hands and do some dancing. It's during that track and "A New Anointing" that I wish Kenoly was in a live setting, so we could hear the boisterous crowd reaction. Though the band does an admirable job backing up Kenoly with brisk instrumentation, the studio setting doesn't do these songs as much justice as an energetic live setting would. With that said, fans of his music should gear up to dance in the aisles to these songs within the next few months. Kenoly is set to hit the road in the coming months to lead worship at some of the country's major churches.