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A Joyful Noise
Posted April 21, 2015
By NRTeamAdmin, Staff Reviewer


Coming off the success of their 2013 recording Revival, which garnered Album of the Year and Song of the Year awards (for "Revival" and "Finish Well") from several different outlets, Daywind Records mixed trio Karen Peck & New River (Karen Peck Gooch, sister Susan Peck Jackson, and Jeff Hawes) present their newest offering, Pray Now.

Lead single and title track "Pray Now" was born from Karen's own prayer life. She aims to encourage others to feel an urgency about taking their concerns to God in prayer. The inclusion of a portion of the Lord's Prayer is personally significant to Karen, as she and her husband Rickey have been praying it daily for some time. Though they could not have imagined it when the song was written, "Pray Now" couldn't be more timely for the Gooches. Earlier this year, Rickey was diagnosed with squamous carcinoma, for which he is still undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Similar to Revival before it, Pray Now has, in its varied styles and song offerings, a little something for everyone. In fact, from cover to cover, Pray Now is even stronger than its predecessor. And that's a tall order. Whether it's the energetic lead-off number "Calling" or the inspirational modern hymn "Hallelujah For the Cross" (the title track of the Newsboys' recent hymns project), Karen Peck & New River lend their inspired all to their uplifting vocals. 

Thematically, though much of the album speaks to trouble and trials, it is consistently hopeful and joyful. Indeed, songs like "Love With All Your Heart", "Blessed", "I'm Not Letting Go", and "I Choose Christ" all put hardship into faithful perspective by keeping eyes focused on Jesus' abiding grace and giving thanks for His provision. In particular, "Blessed" boasts grand production as sweeping as its vocals and harmonies are soaring, while passionate "I'm Not Letting Go" is soul-stirring and energizing, reminding that "when life gets crazy, God is in control." Doubtless, the affirmative "I Choose Christ" is poised for future Song of the Year honors. Still more riveting is the Celtic-infused masterpiece "Redemption's Holy Lamb." As the pipes and drums play, and the trio's vocals rouse your beating heart, you'll look to the Heavens with awe and praise.

Karen Peck & New River excel at bringing peace. Again reminding us that God knows our struggles, "Peace That Covers All the Pain" will soothe your hurting spirit. Elsewhere, the plaintive "Lord, Send Your Angels" lends voice to your prayers while also serving as a lullaby-like balm. Finally, the optimistic, gently melodic "A Life That's Good" ends the album on a hopeful, humble note. 

Closing Thoughts:
With a mix of styles that includes inspirational, hymns, Celtic, country and bluegrass-tinged numbers, and progressive Southern Gospel, on Pray Now, Karen Peck & New River serve up something for everyone. From first cut to last, they don't miss a beat. An album focused on the power of prayer, Pray Now will bring peace, joy, and inspiration to your day.

— Review by Dawn Teresa, dawno


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