Monday, January 21, 2013

Only You - Karyn Williams




“Only You” puts the focus where it belongs, on Jesus only.

Only You
Artist: Karyn Williams (www.karynwilliams.com)
Label: Centricity Music
Length: 11 tracks/41:42 minutes

The song “Only You” reminds me of the Transfiguration. At the end of a spectacular experience that included a visitation from Moses and Elijah, and God speaking from a cloud that overshadowed them, when the disciples “lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (Matt. 17:7 ESV). “Only You” puts the focus where it belongs, on Jesus only. It’s like the satisfying end of a story. It’s the peace that follows when God stills the storm. This stripped-down piano-led song breathes the rest that God longs to give us when we cease from our striving. It may be the last track, but it is the crowning achievement on this 11 song debut from the daughter of Orlando Magic Senior Vice President and founder Pat Williams.

The latter’s battle with cancer served as the inspiration for “Rest in the Hope.” Today he is in remission, but the whole episode shook his daughter to the core. When she finally realized that the situation was beyond her control, she took solace in knowing that she and her dad belonged to God.

Along with some of Nashville’s finest, Williams had a hand in writing all but one song. They not only reflect what she went through with her dad, but the leap of faith she took when she left the comfort of all that she had known for Nashville, where she “didn’t know one person in the music industry.” She shed many a tear on the journey, but as she tells it, God not only brought about collaboration with one of the area’s best songwriters, Brian White. He became her husband. Perhaps, it helps her to sing, “Every Good Thing” with a smile on her face and more than a little conviction.

Only You incorporates a wide range of music styles, alternating between pop/rock, adult contemporary, inspirational and a hint of modern country. Although she pulls it off, her foray into elements of dubstep on “Possible,” does not suit her as well as the songs with less production. 

The spotlight is rightly on her voice in the last three tracks that take a-less-is-better approach. “Enough For Me” has a light country vibe that matches well with her voice. I also like what she says about, “This is Freedom.” “I was walking through situations that I had gotten myself into thinking, ‘Man, I’m such an idiot. How did I get here?’ We just beat ourselves up and that does not come from the Lord,” Williams said. Many who may have shared a similar thought will be encouraged to know they are not alone. Williams communicates the freedom and hope that is waiting for those who reach out to God. 

On the more whimsical side, both musically and lyrically, is “Banner,” where Williams asks God to remind her that she is like the moon in His sky, the jewel in His eye. Pounding piano notes put the exclamation on how God’s grace covers our many failures.

Those who know the Williams’ story are aware of the role of adoption in shaping their family. Karyn’s parents had five biological children but adopted 14 others from a variety of countries. “Just May Be” is all about adoption, but presents a wider application in the thought that Christians “may be the only heaven some will ever see.” We can be the answer to a prayer. Williams works with Holt International to further this aspect of her ministry.

There is much in the way of comfort and encouragement to be found as Williams consistently presents God as the answer to our great need.
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