Play It Again
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Singer, songwriter, college professor, talk show host … the legendary Babbie Mason seems to have done it all. Her songs have been recorded by the likes of Helen Baylor, Larnelle Harris, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and she's performed for three American Presidents as well as the Reverend Billy Graham. The title of her new album, Play It Again, is indeed appropriate since it finds the gifted vocalist tackling a classic jazz sound. Most of the songs have a soft jazz trio foundation, layered in some cases with light strings and muted horns. A few of the tracks, such as "You Have a Way With Words," lean more towards the pop standard category rather than jazz, but I doubt most people will mind. Babbie's excellent voice is soft and beautiful, featuring the vocal control you'd expect from a professional.
I think the PR material sums up the album nicely: "A sound so fresh, a style so classic." This isn't original music by any means, but it's a genre album so it's not really supposed to be either. What is remarkable about it, however, is how well the romantic soft jazz sound works with the spiritual lyrics. I've heard other Christian albums try to match the classic jazz sound with Christian lyrics, but it often comes off sounding forced or overly sentimental. For some reason, the words and music are well matched on Play It Again. Both "Simply, I Love You" and "After All This Time" are superb love songs to the Savior, while "Play It Again" and "Wade In the Water" are inspiring and toe-tapping with their big band arrangements. You've heard this kind of music countless times before, but you'll rarely (if ever) hear it performed so well with Christian lyrics. That's what makes Babbie Mason's latest a breath of fresh air. I'll probably give this as a Christmas gift to my relatives who enjoy good jazz and great vocals.