Posted July 22, 2017
By SarahBassett_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Karen Peck & New River has done a great job following up their 2015 album Pray Now, which garnered four #1 hits including "Pray Now," "I Am Blessed," "Calling" and "I Choose Christ." Hope for All Nations includes 12 tracks and succeeds in its intention of inspiring and uplifting listeners in a season of hope and victory.
Right off the bat "Love Will Never Give Up" elevates the mood. It's upbeat, gets your toes tapping and sets the stage for the rest of the album. The fiddle and guitar play nicely off each other. The title track "Hope For All Nations" begins with keys and strings and really does embody hope lyrically and musically. The progression of this song is perfect: tender cello moving into a brighter chorus. By the bridge, the lyric just hits you: "The same great power that raised him from the dead is living within us / The church will rise with kingdom dreams again / Nothing can stop us." It begs to be repeated because this is what church is supposed to be: God mending marriages, bringing prodigal hearts home, giving hope to broken hearts that can't remember what hope is supposed to mean.
Powerhouse tenor Ricky Braddy leads next in a slow groove for "Who He Is, What He Does," then back to the group dynamic in "The Reason" and "Gotta Be Saved," which is twangy in the best way possible. "I'll Keep On Praying" features Karen's daughter Kari and Ricky Braddy in a sweet duet. Next, Karen leads the ballad "The River," which has enjoyable moments of unison and again features The Wilmington Celebration Choir. "Victory is Mine" intro reminds me of the beginning of Kirk Franklin's "Lean on Me" with the keys, but quickly comes into its own. Ricky's strong, solid vocals lead each verse and first two choruses, then flips to the tenor part while Karen takes lead on the last half.
"God's Got A Blessing" is another song with a country beat, and gives the electric guitar, bass, fiddle and other instruments the opportunity to have fun playing off of and with each other. The next two slow down a bit with "All You Need" poignantly examining the hard life, and "I Know I'll Be There" examining death. While "All You Need" runs the risk of being cliché with the phrase the song is built around ("If God is all you have / You have all you need"), I think the intention comes through. The bridge reiterates who God is regardless of our hearts: "He is greater / He is stronger / He's everlasting love." "I Know I'll Be There" is written to those left behind: "You won't have to wonder where I'll be / I know I'll be there."
The album wraps up with "I'm Gonna Love My Neighbor" getting help from some of Karen Peck and New River's Southern Gospel artist friends. Listen to that four-part harmony on the choruses! It's a flawless ending bringing the global aspect to the forefront.
The Bottom Line: There's just something about Southern Gospel music that is unique and exciting. For me, what makes it fun to listen to is that it is so easy to sing with. Can't hit the high notes? Find the alto. Early morning frog in your throat? There's a tenor part that's reachable. Really warmed up? Wail right along with that soprano praising Jesus! Seriously though, besides being a lesson in vocal ability, harmonies, blend and the technical acuity required to pull off gospel music so well, the stories woven through songs in Southern Gospel stick with you like no other genre. Karen Peck & New River do all the above flawlessly, making Hope for All Nations a must-have this summer.
Song to Download Now:
"Hope for All Nations" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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