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The Art of Praise

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Dec
The Art of Praise
Sounds like … gospel-influenced arrangements of popular worship songsAt a glance … though not completely successful in "gospel-izing" modern worship, there are several shining momentsTrack ListingYou Are GoodHighly ExaltedYou AreAbove AllJubileeLift Every VoiceDesperate DesireGreat Is Your MercyThere Is None Like YouI Will Bless the Lord at All TimesDays of Elijah

For The Art of Praise, well-known gospel/praise-and-worship artists take popular worship songs and arrange them with gospel influences. But it's very difficult to change a congregation-friendly worship song (fairly repetitive lyrics, best led by a small praise team) into the type of full-bodied, lead-driven song sung by gospel choirs (usually more performance-oriented). Because the background vocal arrangements are often fairly close to the originals, the songs often depend on the lead vocalist to bring the gospel sound.

As a result, leads frequently sound like they're overcompensating. They're leading the songs as if they're singing choir-backed gospel, but with a small corps of singers that sounds more like a praise team. Over these popular praise choruses, ad-libs frequently sound like they are driving the "choir" too hard, singing too much.

Because of this, it's no surprise that the best tracks on the album come from artists who are known for singing gospel-friendly praise-and-worship—like Alvin Slaughter's rich, effortless "Lift Every Voice," full of Sunday-morning sound, and Daryl Coley's fulsome, dramatic lead on "Desperate Desire."

Other strong offerings include Nancey Jackson's interpretation of "You Are," which showcases her impressive range; Chris Willis' reflective take on "Great Is Your Mercy"; and J-4 Twenty3's R&B-flavored "Above All."

Though not completely successful in fulfilling its "mission," The Art of Praise is worth a listen if you want to hear some of your favorite songs with a gospel sensibility-or if you're a gospel fan trying to familiarize yourself with current worship favorites.