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PAJAM Presents: Sing to the Lord

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Jan
PAJAM Presents: Sing to the Lord
Sounds like … contemporary gospel with a worshipful flair, as if J Moss decided to front a more understated version of Israel & New Breed.At a glance … urban-driven arrangements of popular praise choruses make Sing to the Lord an interesting detour for the typically R&B-minded PAJAM crew. Track Listing Father
Praise Adonai
Trading My Sorrows
I Need You More
Worthy Is the Lamb
Open the Eyes of My Heart
My Redeemer Lives
Rescue (reprise)
All About You
There All the Time

When I first heard PAJAM was doing a worship-themed album for Integrity Music, I thought, "Oh, Lord." The popular production troupe isn't exactly a praise-music powerhouse. Sure, they've lent their production expertise to some of gospel music's churchiest stars—Hezekiah Walker, Karen Clark-Sheard, and Byron Cage are only a few of their past clients. But they're more renowned for their clubbier, R&B-based fare—most notably, stuff from J Moss, Kierra "KiKi" Sheard, and 21:03, among others.

And then there's the namedropping. Nearly everything PAJAM touches needs for the listener to know exactly who produced it. It's almost tantamount to P Diddy's customary brand-name plug, except gospel style. Please … make it stop.

Those reservations aside, PAJAM Presents: Sing to the Lord isn't half bad. The group does a good job of containing itself and channeling the self-referential attitude into one that points much Higher. Musically, they adopt a contemporary gospel approach, which is a good conduit for these choruses—most of them compiled from Integrity's dependable vaults.

Some of these arrangements are truly inspired: You've likely never heard a cooler version of Jared Anderson's "Rescue" than the one here, which sounds like a classic urban jam from the early '90s; or the breezy, funky take on Paul Baloche's "Praise Adonai"; or "Trading My Sorrows," which isn't as cool as Israel & New Breed's version, but is energetic and soulful nonetheless.

A number of cuts are almost unrecognizable, especially Hillsong's "My Redeemer Lives," which comes across more like a sassy Philly-soul number than anything else. Other renditions don't distinguish themselves enough, like "Open the Eyes of My Heart," "Worthy Is the Lamb," and "Sing," all of which remain a little too faithful to the source material.

Two PAJAM originals bookend the album ("Father," "There All the Time"), but they're typical of the producers: over-synthesized, over-harmonized performance tracks. The true gems here are found in between—all rarities that point to the Creator rather than the creators.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.