Friday, March 13, 2015

Music Review: "Let Love Reign" by Karyn Morgan (Christian Folk, Bluegrass)

Karyn Morgan and I have been friends for years, and I am glad to recommend her new album to you entitled, Let Love Reign. (Get it here). Karyn is a talented guitarist and vocalist with a unique style and unequivocal vibe.

Let Love Reign contains twelve tracks including her best known single, Martha's Mistake. Throughout the album you will find tracks that could easily be heard in a Starbucks or a local coffee shop, featuring creative lyrics and delightful and engaging melodies.

In terms of genre, this album traverses several, but is probably rooted most closely to Christian folk. Some songs like So You Know feel contemporary; Holy Amen is clearly bluegrass; Let Love Reign is definitely more of a Gospel song, and according to Karyn herself, several would probably fall more into the range of "worship meditations," (Closer to You, Only in You, and Here I Am).

So what is the point of the album? Where does it point us? What is it trying to say? Clearly Karyn is telling you the story of her faith and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. In Martha's Mistake, for instance, she tells the Biblical story of sisters Mary and Martha (recounted in Luke 10:38-42),

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
As Karyn tells the story lyrically she speaks from the experience of a woman who has made the same mistake as Martha at times, pursuing the "stuff" of life without pursuing the Savior Himself. Now on the other side of Martha's error, Karyn bids the listener to come and to settle the heart down and rest awhile at the side of Jesus. In so doing, Karyn is inviting the listener to come to the same Christ whom she has found to be infinitely loving, caring, merciful, and kind.

As I write, I am listening to Only in You, one of the worship meditations. I could easily hear this song being used in a worship setting in the local church to powerful affect.

In fact, as I listen to this "call to worship," part of me wishes I was still back at the Hudson Presbyterian Church worshiping together where Karyn would regularly lead worship with this very kind of song, sitting alone on the platform with her six-string.

It's amazing how some of these songs could be used to great affect in multiple settings: the modern stage, the coffee shop, or the plain style Puritan meeting house. Personally, I like this album best playing on my computer as I work in my office. It is settling. Comforting. Engaging. Meaningful.

The other night, did a social experiment. I played Karyn's CD while our people were informally gathering for worship on a Wednesday Night. I like to select music for the gathering time that doesn't seem drab or austere. It has be rightfully worshipful, and yet peppy enough to help enchant our fellowship gathering with gladness before we begin.

I noticed that Karyn's music did just the thing. It set a warm worshipful vibe in the church before we began our worship time together. I didn't ask anyone their opinion, but I've noticed how the right selection of music before worship "sets the tone" for the mood of the gathering. Based on the response of the people, the delight in their faces, and their readiness to worship, "Let Love Reign" was the perfect mood setter.

Down here in the South, the bluegrass tunes worked especially well too.

--Matthew Everhard

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