Thursday, March 15, 2012

God Shed His Grace: Songs of Truth and Freedom - Twila Paris




Worth having for the two newly recorded traditional songs

God Shed His Grace: Songs of Truth and Freedom
Artist: Twila Paris (www.twilaparis.com)
Label: Mountain Spring Music (www.eonemusic.com)
Length: 13 tracks/63:32 minutes

The implied patriotic them of God Shed His Grace by Twila Paris could needlessly scare some people away. Interested persons need not worry about this being political. All but two of the songs come from past releases and deal with the struggle and fight of faith.

The newly recorded traditional songs, “God of Our Fathers” and “America the Beautiful,” are patriotic but also have a strong spiritual component. These and the rest of the tracks serve as a reminder of who God is and what His people can be in the midst of a secular and sometimes hostile environment. The comfort, encouragement and challenge are designed to strengthen faith.    

As cohesive as this collection may be, the new recordings make me long for other fresh material from Paris. The oldest tracks have a somewhat dated sound but lyrically are as relevant now as when they were originally released. One of my favorite refrains comes from “True North,” “How did we ever wander so far / And where do we go from here.”

The past material comes from a variety of recordings whose producers chronicle Paris’ history in contemporary Christian music: Paul Mills, Jonathan David Brown, Brown Bannister, Charlie Peacock and John Hartley. The latter’s work is featured on two songs from Small Sacrifice (2007). Having lost track of Paris in recent years, I was unaware of this recording. On the basis of these two songs, and my past familiarity of Hartley’s work with Sheila Walsh and on the multi-artist Heaven & Earth: A Tapestry of Worship (1999), I will be on the lookout for Small Sacrifice.

Scott Dente (Out of the Grey) and Ken Lewis provide excellent musicianship and production on the new songs. Even if you have a number of the other ones, this is worth having for the beautiful renditions of these traditional favorites.

If you can get past the older production, all of the tracks have the inspiration and substance that has been a hallmark of Paris’ music from the beginning. She crafted songs of worship before it became popular. She belongs in the Christian Music Hall of Fame, and sure enough, she was inducted in 2007.

This release makes me look forward to any future Twila Paris releases. Seasoned artists, with their maturity and perspective, have a lot to offer. They may not generate the same excitement as their younger counterparts, but I treasure their wisdom. “Wisdom” just happens to be the title of the third track on this release. We need it more than ever today, and you can find some of it here just by listening carefully. 
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