aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Sep
Sounds like … the gospel-infused adult contemporary/urban pop that Winans does so well; comparisons to Whitney Houston are aptAt a glance … though not the creative leap or change of pace of some of Winans' earlier albums, her familiar quality and occasional surprises make the album worth havingTrack ListingMamma's KitchenYou WillPrayAll That I Need Is LoveJust Like ThatYou Are LovedLet Everything That Has BreathAlways SistersI PromiseColorful WorldA Place Like ThisPurifiedHe's Concerned About You

CeCe Winans' major solo albums since 1995 have alternated between worship-oriented albums (Alone in His Presence, 1995; Alabaster Box, 1999; Throne Room, 2003) and those comprised of adult contemporary and gospel/R&B tracks (Everlasting Love, 1998; CeCe Winans, 2001). In that pattern, the gospel-influenced AC pop Purified follows the Gold-certified Throne Room project. And although it's been a long time coming-Winans started the project around Christmas 2003 and finished just before summer-her fans will find it worth the wait.

This time around, Winans reunited with producer Keith Thomas, who produced BeBe & CeCe Winans (1987), Heaven (1988), and Different Lifestyles (1991)-the albums that established Winans and brother BeBe as one of the most innovative groups in gospel music history. Thomas and renaissance man Tommy Sims join Winans as co-writers on several tracks. The result is an album that is somewhat familiar but also features a few very rewarding surprises. Put another way, the album art-muted, featuring a serene-looking, almost demure Winans-belies the album's diverse, high-energy content.

Purified starts out with "Mamma's Kitchen," a bouncing, guitar-propelled acoustic-pop number focused on the writer's desire to simultaneously look backward and forward-an accurate approach to listening to the album, really. Lyrics include: "Now I'm chasing rainbows and dreams/Trying hard to believe/This is how it should be/Yesterday was yesterday, tomorrow's just a day away/By then it may be too late, maybe we can start today."

"You Will" slows things down in a gorgeous ballad about the grieving process that's admirably light on platitudes. Winans' silken vocals are buoyed by subtle strings and background vocals and an appearance by her Born Again Choir. "Pray," an urban AC track written and produced by Winans' nephew Mario Winans, has proven to be a hot single, but is thematically and lyrically similar to "Anybody Wanna Pray" from her eponymous album of a few years ago.

"All That I Need Is Love," pleasant if predictable, would have ruffled traditionalist feathers during BeBe & CeCe's earlier days, with its vague references to a lover's embrace. Now, though, such songs are rarely a matter of comment; they're seen as a way to draw general market listeners toward faith. "Just Like That" is head-bobbable urban AC, featuring funky, zooming bass and electric guitar in a song about recovering from emotional pain, self-inflicted or otherwise, through faith in Christ. "You Are Loved," by Denise Walls Allen (formerly of Anointed), is written from the perspective of God (or an encouraging friend) to a person in need of help.

My repeat button got stuck on "Let Everything," which, despite a line similar to "Hallelujah Praise" from Throne Room (both are based on Psalm 150:6), takes the idea in a different direction by also including a reference to the story of the 10 lepers Jesus cleansed (Luke 17:11-21). Its blend of Latin-influenced acoustic guitar, techno/synth programming, rumbling, snarling bassline, hand-claps, flute and punchy BGVs makes this three-minute dance-pop number one of the aforementioned rewarding surprises. Likewise, "Always Sisters" is an uptempo, easy groove that keeps the party going. Co-written by Winans' sisters Angie and Debbie, it features the three voices in easy unison, then layered harmony over synth horns, occasionally highlighting one voice.

"I Promise" is a romantic ballad sure to become a wedding classic, but "Colorful World," though notable for not emphasizing colorblindness as a way to heal cross-cultural wounds, is otherwise relatively forgettable. But "A Place Like This," on which Winans' son Alvin Love III earns a writing credit, is another pleasant surprise. Listen closely to the drum programming-that's a blast from the past referencing "Heaven," as is the line Winans sings after the first chorus. Hot. The song updates the theme with guest appearances by GRITS' Coffee & Bonafide over a zany techno vamp that sounds like something from an '80s-era video game system. The title track, a mellow chorus, describes God as a hero who erases pain by cleansing hearts. Kayla Parker offers her rich background vocals on her song "He's Concerned," which some listeners will recognize from Vanessa Williams' album Here I Go Again.

Purified is neither the creative leap of Throne Room, nor the stylistic change of pace of Everlasting Love. But it's worth having if you enjoy the gospel-influenced AC pop Winans does so well. As always, she shines with these familiar sounds. And when she ventures off the beaten path, the places she goes are so very worth the trip.

Copyright © Christian Music Today. Click for reprint information.