- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Jul
- Possess the Land
- Shout Unto God
- Praise Him in Advance (Intro)
- Praise Him in Advance
- Worshipper in Me
- Thirsty (Reprise)
- Place of Worship
- In the Garden
- Never Would Have Made It
- Rivers Flow
Verity Records is banking on Thirsty, Marvin Sapp's seventh album, to be the singer's album-to-beat. The company's so excited, that it even sent out water bottles with custom Sapp labels to select media outlets.
For an album that is being billed in part as a praise-and-worship effort, the Sapp-centrism is strange. The preacher-turned-singer certainly knows a thing or two about singing God's praises, beginning with his tenure fronting Commissioned all the way through his acclaimed solo career. But until now, Sapp had yet to record a full-blown worship set, opting instead for mixing contemporary gospel with '80s R&B influences.
Though not really a departure, Thirsty attempts to combine those earlier influences with this newfound spirit of praise. Sapp enlisted Israel & New Breed's music director Aaron Lindsey to produce the album, which was recorded on location at Grandville, Michigan's Resurrection Life Church. For vocals, he hired Stellar Award winner Myron Butler & Levi, whose choral flair bears enough pizzazz to bring on the praise. Martha Munizzi and Lindsey even co-wrote the fiery opener "Magnify," an outstanding call to worship.
While star power, virtuosity, and a knockout horn section are helpful, effective worship albums are first-and-foremost congregational—singable, personable, immediate. These qualities are missing from a good chunk of the performance-oriented Thirsty. This approach only belies the impact of tunes like "Shout Unto God" and "Praise Him in Advance," two fine, praise-filled examples that are obscured by longer, more meandering motivational pieces ("Never Would've Made It," "Thirsty").
Taken individually, these are earnest, inspiring renditions, but they affect the coherence of Sapp's overall "liturgy." The service starts with God, and then it's about us, only to switch back to God, and then back to us again. The saints aren't funneled into a place of worship proper, but rather jerked about through a variety of themes, movements, and stylistic shifts. This across-the-board approach may work for the adventurous, but those accustomed to just good, old-time church may find Thirsty to be a rather mixed bag.