Love is the most impoverished word in the English language. It has often been raped of its depth and dimension when we have frivolously substitute it as a synonym for our self-serving narcissism. Love, for example, has been often brazenly used as ear-candy tedium for exercising our lust. On other occasions, we have often used love as a feel-good rhetorical device to excuse ourselves from actually helping others. It is just like sending an over-priced greeting card to an overtly ill friend when we know what is truly needed are our own hands, our hearts, our time and even our wallets. According to Devin McGlamery's diagnosis, the problem is grammatical; we have not understood that love is not just a noun. Rather, love is a verb, love acts. Love needs to have hands; love needs to be translated from our hearts into actions our hands can perform. Devin McGlamery's debut solo record "Love is a Verb" is a tightly woven thematically-driven package that seeks to give definition to such a notion of love. And like a prism, McGlamery refracts love from various vantage points: first from God's perspective; what divine looks like at the foot of the Cross ("Waiting at Home,""When He was on the Cross" and "That's Why"). Subsequently, McGlamery examines how this divine love then transforms us in our relationship with Jesus Christ ("From My Rags to His Riches" and "I Tasted Your Water"), with our spouses ("I Will"), and our children ("While I Still Can").
A word of introduction is order before we delve to dissect the songs. Southern Gospel aficionados would certainly not find McGlamery a stranger. In fact, his roots are deeply embedded in the music industry ever since he was a teenager. Starting in 2009, McGlamery is the lead vocalist of Ernie Haase and the Signature Sound. Prior to that, McGlamery spent five years as a tenor and lead singer of Karen Peck and the New River preceded by five more years with the Dixie Melody Boys. A cursory glance at the featured guest vocalists on this album shows that McGlamery has not burnt any bridges. Rather, he has quite a nexus of friends who have rallied around him for this record including former colleagues Karen Peck & the New River, current workmates Ernie Hasse and the Signature Sound, label mates Beyond the Ashes, McGlamery's hero Russ Taff and bluegrass stalwarts Dailey and Vincent.
Love that is redemptive first and foremost must be the outflow of a heart captured by the love of God. No expression of love is ever greater than God's love shown on the Cross beautifully detailed in "When He Was on the Cross." This is an orchestrated climax building string-laden ballad that deserves copious standing ovation even before the song is over. While "Waiting at Home" is a countrified re-telling of the story of the prodigal son. Just like the Talleys who covered Whitney Houston's "I Love the Lord," McGlamery dabbles yet with another Houston staple, "Hold On Help is On the Way." Unfortunately, because of Houston's definitive rendition, McGlamery could not deviate from Houston's nuances. "That's Why," which has a traditional country waltz feel, was also recently featured on Ernie Hasse and the Signature Sound's recent "Glorious Day." While Russ Taff's duet with McGlamery on the traditional gospel tune "Up Above My Head" is upbeat, fun, and has a live feel to it.
However, a heart that has been ravished by God's love will find expression in one's relationships with others. This is why in the context of the record "I Will" is heartwarming. Plaid with rich textures of emotions, McGlamery offers a power-packed rendition of this dynamite of a love song. "While I Still Can," an old Karen Peck and the New River oldie, is revived here. Prepare for lumps in your throat moments when McGlamery sings about cherishing the fleeting times he could play "Superman" with his kids. On the whole, "Love is a Verb" is a stellar solo debut by McGlamery. It is more adventurous stretching the genre tag to adopt a more encompassing sound than his tenured records with Ernie Hasse and the Signature Sounds. But it's a record that is vital: it shows us through these 12 cuts what love is --- love, not informed by our popular culture, but love as defined by God through Scriptures. Ultimately, this is the type of love never turns moldy; love Biblically understood is a love that moves.