Changing Your Story Live!
Lunjeal/The Orchard (release date: October 23, 2020)
By Bob Marovich
Jekalyn Carr has achieved more by age 23 than most people will accomplish in a lifetime.
With six Top 10 gospel singles under her belt, four hitting number one, plus several albums, a book, an e-course, acting credentials, Dove and Stellar awards, a GRAMMY nomination, and an endless stream of singing and speaking appearances, Carr is living proof of the power of her life-affirming messages.
Recorded at Atlanta’s Praise in the Park event last October, Changing Your Story Live! is full of essentially what the Chief Encouragement Officer does best: deliver messages of hope with evangelistic fervor. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. A seasoned pulpiteer, Carr combines sung lines and spoken declamations gracefully, such as during the title track (and single), and the melodic and memorable “The Blood Never Loses.”
All of the album’s tracks are newly-composed except for “It’s Yours 2.0.” This turbo-charged redux of the chorus of “It’s Yours,” from One Nation Under God, brings the live audience to the praise break-ing point. Similarly, “Major” is more of a sung mantra with Clark Sisters swagger than a through-composed song.
But those only familiar with Carr’s radio hits, which are typically, though not exclusively, aimed at the Joshua generation, need to know that the album features a mixture of melodies, arrangements, and some P&W messages. For example, “You’ve Been Restored” is a lovely ballad lovingly rendered. A hook-laden love song to the Most High, “Connected to You,” moves to playful polyrhythms and features a wordless singalong. A dance-in-the-church-aisles piece with a Kierra Sheard vibe, “Canaan” puts the spotlight on the talented background vocalists.
The latest single, the dramatic and emotional “Jehovah Jireh,” is more introspective than the other songs. It is as if Carr, whose energy is spent helping others, discovers that her own tank is drained. It’s a reminder that ministers need ministering, too, that endless evangelism can take an emotional and physical toll (compassion fatigue).
“Power of Love” is the album’s sleeper, a song of unity and change with crossover potential. “We can walk, we can stand, in the power of love,” Carr sings. It reminds me of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s remarks in 1957 about the redemptive power of love as the way “to make men better.” Carr’s line, “There is a God in America,” points that power at the national crises, while the next line, “There is a God in this world,” makes it global.
With a fine balance of variety and consistency, Changing Your Story Live! is Jekalyn Carr’s best album to date.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “You’ve Been Restored,” “Changing Your Story”