|LABEL: Hosanna! Music|
GENRE: Praise & Worship
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): Saxophones, trumpets, and trombones add a vibrant feel to the musical mix recorded live at the massive Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, where 30,000 people gather weekly to worship.
PRODUCER(S): Israel Houghton, Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff, Reed Hall
We Speak to Nations offers 14 cuts from worship leader Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff and her celebrity-laden team of Israel Houghton, Alvin Slaughter and Marcos Witt. The project is at its best when it slows down and extends a personal, heartfelt touch, and at its worst when Cruse-Ratcliff euphorically leads what rings more like entertainment than worship.
The latter, unfortunately, comprises the first three songs of the album. A patient listener will smile at track four, where the Houghton-penned cut "You Are Good" evokes a more authentic, raw touch and a jazzy feel. Slaughter then gets the spotlight for "We've Come to Worship" with a slower Motown taste. Cruse-Ratcliff's strong voice is then allowed to shine on ballad-like numbers such as "Only in Your Presence" and more stripped-down, intimate moments come through "Show Me Your Glory" and its gentle saxophone.
The title cut perhaps is the strongest. Written by Houghton, he and Cruse-Ratcliff share vocal duties and build tempo with the bold implication of the church speaking to the world: "We speak to nations/The kingdom is coming near to you/We speak to you/Be free, be free." Powerful visuals materialize: "Hear the sound/The sound of the nations worshipping/Hear the sound/Of sons and daughters singing." The listener is drawn in with such quality art, and overall We Speak to Nations offers enough of a personal connection to make this a worthwhile project.
John M. De Marco