Top positive review
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Unlike anything I've heard before
on May 27, 2005
This is a groundbreaking album to me. I have never been much of a fan of Contemporary Christian/Christian Rock/Christian Pop music-I've always thought that it was too cheesy and I didn't find it to match its message. (I always found traditional Gospel to have a more holy sound personally-it was a sound that I could identify more with. That's not to say that Christian Rock and similar genres have something wrong with them.) In fact, some time ago I listened to a couple of the songs on this album and didn't care for it back then. But last fall, something compelled me to pick up my mom's copy of the cassette and give it another try. I'm not sure what the cause was, but I do believe that whatever it was was of Divine origin. I enjoy the "Heaven" album (and lots of other Gospel music) like I enjoy almost no other music. It simply is like nothing that I've really heard before.
The album is very pop-there isn't much in the way of choirs or organs like in traditional Gospel music. That could be part of why I like it so much. I've always loved the music of the 1980's that was a little off-beat, a little underground. On top of the synthesized sounds are touching lyrics, sensitive vocals, and a heartfelt message of Christian love and devotion.
The album spawned four singles-"Heaven," "Celebrate New Life," "Lost Without You," and "Meantime." The title track has a sort of an ethereal "quiet storm" sound, with an alternately major and minor key. "Heavenly" percussion and synthesizers permeate the song. "Celebrate New Life" features Whitney Houston strongly in the background, with everyone singing sounding like they're having a lot of fun. I always find the song to be very sunny and energizing. "Lost Without You" is a mid-tempo ballad featuring electric pianos and once again lots of synthesizers. It sounds like it could have easily been recorded by the likes of Atlantic Starr, but this has a more holy Gospel touch to it. "Meantime" is a gentle and longing ballad for the Afterlife, as BeBe soulfully sings that he'll "keep on loving" God his whole life through.
The rest of the album isn't any weaker than the singles. "You" is a taste of the New-Jack Swing music style that was becoming popular around the time this album was released (late 1988), and proclaims that God is the answer to all the trouble in life. "Hold Up The Light," with an explosive performance by Whitney Houston as well as BeBe and CeCe, is memorable also. "Trust Him" is a mid-tempo, uplifting song in the style of 1980's music-lots of percussion, synths, and good background vocals.
The album contains a quality that many albums and songs don't for me-the ability to make me want to cry. Therefore I don't listen to some of these songs nearly as much as I listen to the rest. Ironically, "Don't Cry" to me sounds heartbreaking, as does the cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The latter sounds like the duo are literally singing from Heaven, making for an ethereal experience. "Wanna Be More" is a piano-driven ballad written by BeBe that also has an uplifting message, but comes across as quite melancholy. I'm not taking away from these songs, but rather showing what an emotional impact they have.
Not everyone is going to like "Heaven"-in terms of Gospel music it's very non-traditional. But something about this album grabbed me (The Spirit of God?), and now I own almost all of BeBe and CeCe Winans' discography. I've always loved R&B music from the 1980's, and have been a Christian for a while now, and this is one of the first instances where the two matched greatly for me. (And that's not to say that the R&B music I listened to before I loved this album was dirty or sinful.) It's the dawning of a new love in my life and liking for music, and I'm sure that it will touch someone out there, too.