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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Walking Miracle

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Feb
Walking Miracle
Sounds like … Shirley Caesar, Karen Clark-Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole, LaShun Pace, Vickie Winans, and other gospel queens with a flair for modern sounds.At a glance … more contemporary than ever, Vanessa Bell-Armstrong is back with an album that's modern without sacrificing her gospel heritage.Track Listing Walking Miracle
So Good to Me
Fall in Love Again
Watch Me
'Til the Victory's Won
Just Hold On
It's Over Now
I Just Love You

After going through a number of near-career enders, Vanessa Bell-Armstrong makes her EMI Gospel comeback with Walking Miracle.

A protégé of Mattie Moss Clark—mother of the famed Clark Sisters—she rose to prominence in the '80s thanks to a couple of hit albums on the Muscle Shoals label. The buzz led to a deal with Jive Records, which gave Armstrong an R&B makeover and had its eyes set on making her a mainstream luminary, while retaining her core gospel audience. During her Jive years, though, her star dwindled, her marriage dissolved, and she suffered a stroke that stunted her very ability to sing.

A Walking Miracle in every sense of the word, Armstrong is back, but it's almost as if she never left: she sounds refreshed, modern, confident, sultry; she struts her stuff like any other diva would. Her label is relying on the churchy single "So Good to Me" to hook listeners skeptical of Armstrong's return, but they're in for a surprise, as Walking Miracle is nothing like that single. Rather, it's best described as an urban AC disc—a soulful, slow-burning affair that's more reminiscent of an R&B songstress than a gospel songbird.

A few tracks border on youthful, like the floor-stompin' "Til the Victory's Won," a club joint that's more worthy of Kierra "KiKi" Sheard than someone of Armstrong's stature. But such moments are tempered with enough mesmerizing finesse ("Seasons"), class ("Fall in Love Again"), and inspiration ("Just Hold On"). These do a good job reminding us that Armstrong's still one of gospel's most enduring vocalists.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.