Andraé Crouch’s journey, sometimes ascendant, sometimes troubled, has always been richly, deeply, and profoundly musical. Who hasn’t been reassured by “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” (written by Crouch when he was 15)? Who hasn’t been brought to tears by the ascendant and powerful lyrics of “To God Be the Glory?”
Andraé who has suffered serious health issues of late has suffered no loss of vision and artistry. Although considered the father of contemporary gospel music, he is a master of pop, rock, world music, Latin, jazz, R&B, and beyond. On The Journey, he features a host of stellar artists and worshipers including Tata Vega, Chaka Khan, Sheila E., Take 6, and Marvin Winans, casting a musical net far, wide … and high. He is not the primary vocalist on most songs, rather he is the script writer of a cinematic adventure. And he has a capable collaborator in Luther “Mano” Hanes who produced the collection and co-wrote 10 of the album’s 15 songs.
The Journey is epic, and has the emotional, dynamic range, of a musical soundtrack or Broadway musical. The intricacy and imagination of vocal and instrumental performance and arrangements is a model for shaping music to evoke moods, reveal truth, create beauty, elicit a response, back a testimony, tell a story, reference time—and eternity—and serve as a dimensional and dynamic bridge for gospel communication. The CDs unrelenting focus is on Jesus, the experience of salvation, and what God has done and continues to do on our behalf.
The rollicking bounce and genre-bending nuance of The Journey’s opening track “Somebody Told Me about Jesus” is a testimony to Christ’s love and transforming power. And, as in the Scriptures, we sometimes get the end of the story in the beginning; the album’s second track, “Good Time,” takes us to the coronation of the King of Kings and paints a celestial event that you wouldn’t miss “for nothin’.”
Mining the Riches of the Past
Crouch describes his current outing as “a reach back to bring forward.” And bring forward he does on the classic “Without Faith,” featuring Kim Burrell & Take 6; a song that recalls both Scripture (Heb 11:6) and the lush melodic beauty of vintage film scores. And again on “Heaven Bound” featuring vocalist Rance Allen whose history stretches back to the beginnings of the Stax label, Andraé celebrates the legacy of traditional gospel. The past is present on the eerily sweet hymn “God Is on Our Side” where Crouch and Hanes bring forward harmonies from the 1800s to capture hearts in the 21st century, affirming that God is for us and present with us in difficult times, strengthening us in the midst of any trial.
“Take Me to Where Jesus Is” might just be what the man lifted through the roof by his friends in the Gospel of Mark said (Mark 2:3-5). And the song is so infectious, after one hearing, you may be saying/singing it too. The conversation in “I Can” reflects a God who listens, speaks and acts. And Marvin Winans is the perfect match for “Let The Church Say Amen.” An inspiring congregational tour de force, the song declares that God has spoken and still speaks and invites the Church to agree and embrace his irrevocable Word with a resounding “Amen.”
Whether a simple four-line chorus such as “The Promise”— relaying the encouraging news that God will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5)—or the jazzy, spunk and humor of “He Has a Plan for Me” featuring the matchless vocals of Tata Vega, each song is a heart, head, and Spirit adventure. On Crouch’s journey of salvation, celebration, and worship, we experience God’s care, amazing love and compassion for our weakness and pain, and his healing power, saving grace and transcendence over time. We are reminded of the inclusive brotherhood of every race and nation who will worship before his throne and the glorious diversity and the infinite possibility of God’s creativity in us and through us. Let the church say “Amen” indeed.