Pray Now: Karen Peck & New River

kpnr2015praynowGRADE:  A-

  • Album – Pray Now
  • Artist – Karen Peck & New River
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Progressive, Modern Country, Light Pop
  • Release Date – 04/28/14
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (iTunes/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

Today brings Southern Gospel listeners a new album from Karen Peck and New River.  They have been separating new album releases by two years as this is the first new album since Revival (2013), Reach Out (2011) and No Worries (2009).

This is also the third album with current vocal line up Karen Peck Gooch, Susan Jackson and Jeff Hawes.  This also marks the sixth recording with Daywind Records.  The group still remains at the top of their game, consistently one of the most popular groups among Southern Gospel listeners.

Pray Now is a collection of eleven new songs, with five of those being co-written by Karen.  The trio sticks with their progressive Southern Gospel style mixing with modern country arrangements and some light pop overtones.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • There are times in a group’s career when a song fits their situation.  We saw it last year with the Perrys and the song “I Can Trust Him”.  As many already know, Karen’s husband Ricky Gooch was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2014.  As of this writing he has completed all his treatments and there is not a song more fitting for the group and Karen to sing during this time than “Pray Now”.  What a power house song!  If you listen to any new song released this year, this is the song.
  • Next up on the stand out list, is one of the most different musical arrangements I have heard in a long time; “Redemption’s Holy Lamb”.  The group has what can be described as bluegrass vocals accompanied by a Celtic musical score.  I can’t tell you how many times I hit repeat on this song.
  • The CCM infused, “Hallelujah For The Cross” is a stand out for Jeff.  Jeff is able to show his range as he then goes and turns in a ‘rollicking’ country tune, “I’m Not Letting Go”.  Of all the male vocalists that have spent time with New River since the group started, Jeff is near the top of that list.
  • Along with “Pray Now”, Karen has a couple more New River ballads that deserve a listen.  The song “Blessed” is one that all listeners can relate; a simple song of Thanksgiving.  Karen also turns in a great cover of the Bill Gaither/Suzanne Jennings song, “Lord Send Your Angels”.  Many will remember Charlotte Ritchie’s performance of this song on the Homecoming Series.
  • Listeners are treated to daughter, Kari Gooch’s first vocal feature on an album with the closing track, “A Life That’s Good”.  The country-style fits Kari’s maturing vocal and I don’t doubt in a couple more years she will be a more prominent vocal member of the group.
  • Also, listeners who enjoy Karen Peck and New River’s country-style, the album opener, “Calling”, is standard New River.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Pray Now”, “Redemption’s Holy Lamb”, “Blessed”, “Hallelujah For The Cross”, “I’m Not Letting Go”, “Lord Send Your Angels” and “Calling”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The only critique I had for the album is there were only two up-tempo numbers among all those slow to mid tempo songs.  The group should be happy though, because those slow to mid tempo numbers are outstanding!
  • The song “Love With All Your Heart” is not the same song (with same title) from the group’s 2011 recording Reach Out.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Love With All Your Heart”.

WRAP UP:

Karen Peck and New River continues to provide Southern Gospel listeners with the highest quality music.  I have to admit, each time I put in a new New River recording I expect this to be the recording that doesn’t quite measure up to the group’s previous efforts.  At some point, they have to release that album.  I can guarantee you, Pray Now, is not that album.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this recording!

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Calling”/Karen – Jason Cox, Gerald Crabb, Karen Peck  2. “Pray Now“/Karen – Dave Clark, Michael Farren, Karen Peck  3. “Hallelujah For The Cross”/Jeff – Ross King, Brandon Wright  4. “Love With All Your Heart”/Susan – Becky Bowman, Sonya Isaacs, Steven Jones  5. “Blessed”/Karen – Michael Farren, Karen Peck, Kenna Turner West  6. “I’m Not Letting Go”/Jeff – Benji Cowart, Karen Peck, Kenna Turner West  7. “I Choose Christ”/Karen – Jason Cox, Gerald Crabb, Sue C Smith  8. “Peace That Covers All The Pain”/Susan – Caleb Collins, Wayne Haun  9. “Redemption’s Holy Lamb”/Ensemble – Benji Cowart, Karen Peck, Kenna Turner West  10. “Lord Send Your Angels”/Karen – William Gaither, Suzanne Jennings  11. “A Life That’s Good”/Kari – Ashley Monroe, Sarah Siskind

*Video Credit (DaywindRecords)

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