Though Yolanda Adams has definitely flirted with the idea of secular success throughout her long career, her feet have been firmly been planted in traditionalist-minded praise and worship music. There is no better evidence of that fact than the aptly titled Praise and Worship Songs of Yolanda Adams, a compilation record of her more devotedly religious efforts the span the last 10 years. The ten-song offering the first release in her 13-year catalogue custom made for the segment of her audience with a penchant for exclusively Christian-oriented themes. While it may quell the criticism of her secular, “sell-out” tendencies, Praise and Worship Songs… offers some of Adams’ most expressive performances.
“My Everything,” opens Praise and Worship Songs… perfectly, displaying Adams with all the nuance and control that audiences have come to expect. It also sets a trend that the rest of the record follows with a simple, direct arrangement. The true standouts of the compilation (“Thank You,” “You Changed My Life”) all follow this pattern, using stripped down instrumentation and direct song structures which allow Adams’ vocal showmanship to come to the foreground.
Unfortunately, when Praise and Worship Songs…turns away from this formula the record suffers. “Praise Your Holy Name” has the over-produced sheen of bargain bin R&B crossover, and as much as it may have attracted new listeners at the time of it’s recording, the production aesthetics simply don’t stand the test of time.
When Adams returns to simple musical motives at the record’s closing, her natural vocal ability is unquestionable. Closing with two V. Michael McKay gems (“The Good Shepherd” and “Before I Tell Them”), Adams’ is expressive, dominating and at the top of her game. These moments evokes aural visions of a spirited young Aretha Franklin. But maybe more importantly, these moments offer expressions so stirring and evocative that they have the power to make a believer out of anyone.
Nate Cavalieri writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.