Artist:  David Phelps
Title:  "Life Is a Church"
Label:  Word/Curb

Far too many of the CDs on store shelves are mere skinny, plastic parcels with track lists chock full o’ yawns. But David Phelps, the Gaither Vocal Band’s corkscrew-curled golden boy, hath labored, travailed and ultimately begot a stunner of a fifth CD, "Life Is a Church."

"Life" wields a quiver full of mesmerizing, inspirational tunes expertly navigated by Phelps’ cathedral-rattling, head-shakingly gorgeous vocals. This record’s altitude is beyond the rafters – it jerks out tears at times, pleads, adores, and gets sentimental, tender and divine on countless levels.

David Phelps’ Southern gospel background proved revolutionary and evolutionary with this record. He fearlessly dove into the attic of ’80s Christian music and dug out the LP-worthy, Jesus-saturated, stand-to-your-feet contempo gospel we all grew up on, and, with love and sweat, polished it right up with acoustics and God/family themes, all without sounding hokey or archaic.

The record’s spiritual lessons hit the listener with bold simplicity and staying power. "Life Is a Church" lyrically relishes Jesus and the life of integrity like "Chicken Soup for the Worshiper’s Soul." The praise spills out of it hearty, comforting, savory and warm.

"Life" begins with brisk rocker “With His Love,” a robust anthem laid over vivacious guitar backgrounds, obviously meant to overload the brain with endorphins. Many of the cuts just sweat emotion, including the title song, as Phelps’ natural, unbridled chuckles pop through the speakers between stanzas. “Long Time Coming” takes it a step further, as Phelps raps the song’s verses with an enviable proficiency.

The most stellar track is Phelps’ astounding cover of the Sunday morning standard “Behold the Lamb,” guaranteed to leave black eyeliner streaks on the cheeks of many a listener.

"Life Is a Church" is a rare, enchanting landmark of a record.

 

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