Producer: Jim & Melissa Brady
Label: 65South Records
Anyone who’s read reviews by me knows I’m a sucker for a female vocalist who can stick the landing. I’ve always loved those ladies who can deliver a lyric with emotion and heartfelt finesse. Karen Peck Gooch, Joyce Martin Sanders, and Kim Ruppe Sheffield have always been the elite in this department. However, there’s another name to add to the list as Melissa Brady’s suprise solo record Shine proves she’s got what it takes to remain an upper-echelon vocalist in this business.
Melissa Brady was a surprise winner of the 2019 Absolutely Gospel Music Award for Female Vocalist of the Year award, and Shine helps prove the point that the award was more than deserved. It’s easy to hear some of Brady’s biggest influences both as a vocalist and songwriter on Shine. The huge orchestral opening of “Finest Hour” and “It’s Your Song Lord” have a definitive 80’s-Sandi Patty vibe, but with an updated flair. “Windows of Heaven” recalls late 90s-esque Twila Paris with a beautiful melody coupled with Brady’s unassuming yet distinctive vocal delivery. Her cover of Paris’ “The Warrior Is a Child” is another stand-out (though it doesn’t hurt to have husband Jim prevalent in the mix).
The quaint “Hidden Treasures” sounds like something out of Janet Paschal’s repretoire during her stint as a leading lady in this genre in the early to mid-aughts. The Gospel-esque “His Name Is Jesus” is a bluesy-tinged tune that really shows off Melissa’s impressive chops. This would make a fantastic single from this already strong project. “Low Fat Latte'” is a fun ditty that shows off Melissa’s personality to a tee.
The two stand-out tracks on Shine happen to both be about heaven. Her duet with David Phelps on her longtime most requested songwriting masterpiece “Just Beyond the River Jordan” is a phenomel piece of music. David and Melissa’s blend is impeccable. “Heaven” is the other stand-out track. Melissa’s breathy vocals match the beautiful orchestration and sounds like something out of the Rodgers & Hammerstein songbook.
Overall, Melissa has hit it out of the park with this release. Shine shows off Melissa’s ability to be both a powerhouse and subtle lyrical vocalist while showing off her talents as a songwriter. All fans of Gospel music and even the early-era inspirational vocalists of days gone by will love what Melissa is bringing to the table on Shine.
The Warrior Is a Child
It’s Your Song Lord
Just Beyond the River Jordan (feat. David Phelps)
Windows of Heaven
Because of You
His Name Is Jesus
Low Fat Latte’