Prime Cuts: Knowing You, I Love You Lord, As the Deer
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
What a brilliant idea Steffany Gretzinger has had in her hands! Whilst there are many throwback albums to the glory days of the hymnody, there are very tributes paid to glory days of the 90s where "choruses" (yes, that's what worship songs were called) were blooming. In an effort to pay tribute to her dad ho had recently gone to heaven, Gretzinger has decided to put her own signature spin on these "choruses." Those who have grown up in church during the 90s and into the 2000s will remember these offerings from Don Moen ("Give Thanks"), Marty Nysrrom ("As the Deer"), Graham Kendrick ("Knowing You"), and others.
Rather than re-creating them with cheesy sound of synthesizers (which was the "in" thing in the 90s), Gretzinger has chosen a low-key approach. Using a piano and strings, she sings these classics with few adornments, allowing her vocals to take center-stage. In this regard, she is so heartfelt that you can't help but be moved when sings the simple yet so sublime: "I Love You Lord." Not sure why by no one has ever resurrected Graham Kenderick's "Knowing You," but the words are so profound: "All I once held dear, built my life upon/All this world reveres, and wars to own/All I once thought gain I have counted loss/Spent and worthless now, compared to this/Knowing You, Jesus/Knowing You."
The string-led opening of "There is None Like You" unfolds like a moving scene in the movie. And when Gretzinger sings,"suffering children are safe in your arms," you can't help but feel your tears falling. Gretzinger brings her crystal-clear and yet vulnerable vocals to the gorgeous "Open My Eyes Lord." Pity the song is only two and a half minutes long; one wishes Gretzinger would have made it into a medley with another chorus or at least write a new bridge to it. Gretzinger's version of Marty Nystrom's immortal "As the Deer" is only augmented by her vocals and a piano. Again, the result is a big "wow!"
To prove that you don't need ear-popping percussion or screaming electric guitars, Gretzinger's take of "Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down" with her vocals and strings are moutain-moving powerful. With this album being geared as a tribute to her father who had recently gone to heaven, one understands that Gretzinger prefers the ballads. However, if she were to include a few uptempoes (maybe Ron Kenoly's "Lift Him Up" or Paul Wilbur's "Days of Elijah" or Don Moen's "God is Good All the Time") the album would certainly be even better.