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Sounds like … Kirk Franklin through the years, from his days fronting The Family and God's Property to his Nu Nation, 1NC, and solo periodsAt a glance … it's unclear how much of Songs for the Storm is mere product or a conscientious effort to help people cope with the trials of lifeTrack Listing Intro He Will Take the Pain Away Let Me Touch You When I Get There Conquerors When You Fall Blessing in the Storm The Storm Is Over Now You Are The Family Worship Medley Melodies from Heaven Look at Me Now
Kirk Franklin needs no introduction. As the bestselling gospel artist of all time, he is faith-based music's version of R. Kelly—loved by some, derided by others, but ridiculously popular and talented anyway. (He's even willing to expose his dirty laundry on Oprah, with minimal side effects.) After almost 15 years in music ministry, he continues to soar in every way possible, thanks in part to his tireless spirit, his commitment to excellence, and his readiness to reinvent his image and sound.
But in all these years, Franklin has yet to release a best-of project. Songs for the Storm, Volume 1 isn't exactly one, but it's a retrospective of sorts—a disc containing some of Franklin's most beloved ballads and anthems. His label is packaging it as a "collection of songs that brought us through and carry us over," but the album isn't that momentous. It's simply an assortment of encouraging numbers from Franklin's extensive catalog.
Beginning with his 1993 smash Kirk Franklin & The Family through 2002's stunning The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin—2005's Hero is conspicuously absent—all of the gospel entertainer's eras are represented. Even side ventures such as God's Property and 1NC get a mention here, albeit with one song each. The only new track is "Look at Me Now," but it turns out to be a dud—an out-of-place, fast-paced gospel/pop number that sounds like a throwaway from the Hero sessions.
In keeping with his preacher's heart, Franklin peppers the set with "sermonettes" about enduring in the face of tribulation, but these grow tiresome upon repeated listens. The fact that they're appended at the beginning of certain songs—instead of isolated as standalone tracks—breaks the flow of the set and makes it a bit cumbersome to enjoy, especially now in the age of iTunes and MP3 players. It's debatable how much of a comfort Songs for the Storm is, but at least it showcases Franklin at his inspirational best.