Believe For It
Fair Trade (release date: March 12, 2021)
By Robert M. Marovich
CeCe Winans’s Believe For It is the singer’s first non-holiday release in four years and her first live worship solo album. Listening to the album will lead one to consider the live recording environment as her sweet spot.
Recorded in Nashville at Trinity Broadcasting Network, the album/worship service is delightfully long on melodic and heartwarming songs written and recorded by some of today’s top CCM and P&W stars and thankfully short on P&W filler.
Although “Fire” is the type of aerobic P&W piece that echoes off the walls of megachurches coast-to-coast, the single, “Never Lost,” is exactly the kind of lovely religious ballad we’ve come to expect from CeCe. The title track is yet another power P&W ballad, as is “King of Glory,” written by Todd Dulaney, which brings to mind Phil Tarver’s 2007 “Dance with Me.” At this point in the recorded service, CeCe shifts seamlessly to the hypnotic “Worthy Of It All,” which envelops a now-silent audience, caught up in contemplative prayer. “Hunger” extends the peaceful atmosphere.
CeCe covers “Shepherd,” recorded most effectively last year by her church collective Nashville Life Music, and one of JGM’s Best Songs of 2020. “Alabaster Box,” a Biblical allegory about prejudice, is a beloved CeCe chestnut from 1999 and she sings it with full force of emotion. “Jesus You’re Beautiful” is a sweet love message that sounds written by Andrae Crouch (actually the composer is Nathan Sabin) and builds to a crescendo before dropping to a peaceful end with an interpolation of the Sunday School favorite, “Jesus Loves Me.”
Liberally abundant in the lyrics are evocations of earthly elements to express the divine, from the fresh wind and fire of the Holy Spirit to baptism in holy water.
“I Have a Savior” is another beautiful worship ballad beautifully and deftly rendered, with a CeCe-led prayer tagged onto the end. Although most of the songs have been sung by others before, “No Greater,” an extraordinarily uplifting piece written by CeCe’s son, Alvin Love, is brand new. It ought to be edited for radio; it’s one of the most energetic endings to a gospel album in a long time.
CeCe Winans is at the apex of her vocal strength on Believe For It, the best album JGM has heard thus far in 2021.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “Shepherd,” “Never Lost,” “No Greater”