Angel Star Music (release date: January 2015)
By Bob Marovich
Divine Radiance is the third sacred music album from New York-native Noreen Crayton. While her career includes significant musical stage work in the U.S. and overseas, Crayton has gospel roots and sings with the praise and worship team at Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem.
Crayton nearly plays all the bases on Divine Radiance—from writer and arranger to performer and executive producer. She does employ a handful of musicians to assist her on some tracks.
Musically, the album offers a sample of everything from an engaging and entertaining jazz combo on “Thank You Jesus” to soul/R&B on “We Praise Your Name” and the title track, to heavy funk riffs on “Get To Know Him.” “Turn It Over to Jesus” has a smooth traditional feel. Crayton’s soprano is sufficiently flexible to take on a variety of styles, though the jazz combo accents her versatility best.
The lead single, “Make Me Over,” is part worship, part supplication for assistance when “life is a mess” and leaves one “bruised and sore.” It is Crayton’s first worldwide single release. “It was the last song I wrote for the album,” Crayton told JGM, “and I felt it was an extremely honest and revealing lyric for me as an artist.”
The finest moments on Divine Radiance are its simplest. Towards the conclusion of the CD, Crayton offers some inspirational ballads that capture her stage savvy. The heartwarming “Excellent,” by far the best composition on the album, has legs as a song that could itself be part of a musical. Similarly, “Who Will Be Next” is a series of dramatic stories with a deft piano backdrop provided by Kevin MacLeod that evokes Tori Amos’s contemplative performances.
If anything, there is a little too much variety on the album, making it difficult to pinpoint Crayton’s sweet spot or define her style. If she did an entire album of sacred music with the jazz combo on “Thank You Jesus,” however, you would not hear a complaint from me.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “Turn It Over to Jesus,” “Excellent.”