Turn to Hymn #…
“Forgotten Hymns of the Church” featuring Vickie Woodard’s Melodious Praise
Gospel artist Vickie Woodard set out to celebrate the beauty of the old hymns in her latest project, Turn to Hymn #…. Her vocal tribute to these revered Christian songs is accompanied by piano, organ, and electronic keyboard.
Vickie’s intention to pay homage to classic hymnody while infusing each song with a modern sensibility would have come off much more effectively had the accompaniment been limited to piano and organ. The electric keyboard gives the tracks too much of a hotel lounge feel, obscuring the simple beauty of the melodies.
Having said that, I must also say that the introduction to “When We Will All Get Together” caught my attention because it employed some very interesting electronic dance mix techniques, but it didn’t sustain the inventiveness and played out more like a disco number.
One of the best tracks on the project is “Lift Him Up.” This song is blessed with understated production and excellent vocal harmonizing by a female quartet that I wish had been featured more often throughout the CD. For Vickie’s part, her most soulful, blues-drenched vocal performance on the CD is the two-part “God’s Amazing Grace.” It is here that she demonstrates her full potential as a gospel vocalist.
Thoughtful arrangements like “God’s Amazing Grace” and the jazz-inspired “Ask What You Will” were also musical highlights. More arrangements like these would have given the project a much more distinctive personality, like Mavis Staples’ and Lucky Peterson’s brilliantly understated tribute to the Spirituals (Verve).
Grade = C