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Redemptive and Moving
Posted September 24, 2020
By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer


What You Need to Know
Melanie Penn writes pop songs at the crossroads of faith and culture. A singer/songwriter now based in Manhattan, Melanie was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Falls Church, Virginia. Following several years in the theater scene, Penn’s attention turned to songwriting and becoming a solo artist. She started collaborating with producer Ben Shive and has released four albums, with More Alive Vol. 1 becoming her fifth project. It is exciting to hear new music from Melanie. This album was preceded by "I Want to Know You," "Don’t Worry," "He Will Redeem it All," "Avenue of the Americas" and the title track.
 
The musical vibe of those songs sets the tone for this exceptional album, which is not be missed. Melanie has once again captivated me as it features her unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." More Alive Vol. 1 showcases not only Melanie's gifts as a songwriter, but her shimmering, emotion-laden voice. She is a great role model for girls. This album is loaded with positive grace-filled messages of hope. Her songs address the pressures of life and she understands that true happiness and her identity only comes from her relationship with God.

 
What it Sounds Like
In the style of my favorite singer-songwriters, I can’t get enough of Melanie’s thought-provoking songs. Several of Melanie’s songs over the years are accessible pop and worship songs that are deep in meaning and content and this album is no exception. So many people can relate to the messages of these songs. The standout songs also include “You’re Not Absent,” “Grace,” “One Word” and “When One Door Closes.” I'm moved by the prayerful song, "Thank You.”
 
All these songs and their dependence on God have perfectly poetic biblical descriptions of God and our identity in Him as His sons and daughters. So many people can relate to the messages of these songs. He is a God of infinite second chances. These songs are loaded with comforting messages that there is always hope.  Breathe it in like oxygen, and God's hope will turn whatever you are going through into something different for His glory, a message we all need, especially during this pandemic. Melanie’s vocals are so strong and pure.

 
Spiritual Highlights
Melanie has consistently impressed me with her mature faith and sincere desire to serve Jesus. You'll be blessed by these powerful songs which are all stand-out anthems with convicting declarations including: “Grace, is making us clean, Grace is setting us free, even someone like me, like you and me.” I get welled up as Melanie ends that song with that message of “Grace.” The message of “I Want to know You” is based on several biblical truths, including Philippians 3:8: "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." Whatever struggle or depression you are facing, you can know that God is with you, always. The comfort and rest offered by Jesus is beautifully captured in “He Will Redeem it All.” Melanie beautifully depicts the message of our blessed hope that God is making all things new that we all need to hear, “But through it all my hope is in the one/Who says all pain will be undone/We’ll never cry again/And in the end/He will redeem it all.”
 
Best Song on the Record
This album is filled with several of my new favorite songs by Melanie Penn. I generally rank my favorite songs based on how they move me emotionally. On this album, that’s every song. “I Want to Know You” stirs my heart and increases my convictions to grow closer to God during my worship and devotional time. We all love our comforts, and this song challenges me to think more of others and to share Christ more than to focus on myself. The cost of discipleship is to make Him the Lord of our lives. One of my daily devotionals in trying to grow in my walk with Jesus is to sing to Him at least one praise song every day. I suggest we spend time with the Lord and try praying and singing along with this great song of praise and adoration. The lyrics of this song completely wreck me: “Everything I have/I’d give it all away/Count it all as loss/Compared to what I’ve gained.”
 
I actually can’t listen to “One Word” or “He Will Redeem it All” without welling up, and you’ll get emotionally swept up in “One Word’s” lyrics which takes me on an emotional journey that causes me to excitedly worship along with the stirring lyrics every time I hear the song. These anthems are the cry of my heart with the much-needed call to action messages for Christians looking at the injustice around us. You’ll raise your hands and voice and sing along, “In an ocean of chaos/And in the waves of doubt/With one word/You’re gonna drown it out.” “Don’t Worry” is another standout anthem, reminding us that “Every bird on a wing or any flower that grows/Is never anxious for a single thing/My confidence is in the only One who can know How to give me everything I need in.”


For Fans Of
Christa Wells, Sara Groves, Ellie Holcomb, Plumb

Final Word
I absolutely love Melanie’s intentionality and complete focus on God's provision in her life. She is a uniquely gifted singer/songwriter with a tender voice that is memorable and dynamic, yet intimate. These songs all have biblically-based lyrics that poignantly capture life's simple yet vital messages. I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the prayerful lyrics found in these sacred songs that are redemptive and moving. Melanie’s vocals will soothe your soul, and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention and focus on Jesus. There are several personal songs that melt my heart. If you like female singers that make you think while you enjoy their catchy and empowering songs, More Alive Vol. 1 is for you. I have three daughters, and this is a solid upbeat pop album with positive biblical messages which is a great alternative to mainstream pop artists. This is one of my top albums of the year in any genre.

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