Journey to Restoration
Reviving Dreams Enterprises (release date: November 8, 2018)
By Bob Marovich
Houston, Texas-based singer-songwriter Nikki Berry is one of the only gospel singers I know who also has a degree in mechanical engineering.
I met Berry this summer at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards celebration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she was crowned Ms. N.I.G.M.A. (National and Independent Gospel Music Awards). Journey to Restoration is her latest album.
Striving and overcoming are the thematic strands that hold the project together and are, in her hands, the motive forces of achieving restoration. For example, “The Struggle” brings the theme to the level of daily life, where problems arise everywhere—at “school, home, work, church.” Berry’s comment that “we all have to struggle” is an understatement, but for those who may have escaped the complexities of life at this point in their existence, it is a declaration worth heeding.
The single “Higher,” which appears on the album in radio and extended versions, offers the album’s most compelling listen. To softly supporting background vocalists and distinctive chord changes, Berry sings about desiring to be more like Christ. Achieving this higher dimension of living can, in turn, help overcome problems such as depression and anxiety. To my mind, we cannot have too many songs about good mental health.
“Restore” and “God and I” have a hypnotic stream-of-consciousness vibe that evoke the work of Tonya Hairston Ware and Gloria Estefan in their atmospheric way of delivering a ballad.
In a break from her contemporary focus, Berry renders the classic hymn “I Need Thee” in a straightforward manner until the end, when she produces some Pentecostal passion that moved toward, but did not ultimately conclude with, the “Yes Lord” chant.
Berry is an efficient singer but she sometimes encounters slight, though fixable, pitch problems when she shifts out of her vocal range. I would also like to hear her mix in songs from other songwriters on her next album so she can demonstrate more vocal versatility. Nevertheless, Journey to Restoration delivers real truth in a way that makes it go down easy.
Three of Five Stars