Nowadays it is easy for a Gospel artist to be lethargic. Churning up the hoopla of shout-outs and the spirit of the moment, some artists are able to get away with derivative music with poorly developed melodic structures. Then there are still other lesser artists who let their backing choir do most of the singing while they act more like masters of ceremonies interjecting a line or two here and there. But this is not the case with Lisa Page Brooks. Rather than depending on a long line of Gospel luminaries or her backing choral, the cynosure is on Brooks' voice and her singing. Regardless of whether it is traditional Gospel or a more progressive R&B piece, nothing seems to able to hinder Brooks from singing her heart out for our Lord. And she truly really shines on these 13 tracks with her Yolanda Adams-esque alto. Instead of relying on recycled riffs most of these thirteen cuts are choice cuts rich in theological insights and versatile in terms of styles. Most of which are written by Brooks' husband and long time producer Michael Brooks. "Ready," Brooks' fourth solo record, comes on the heels of her 2009's "Strong" which featured the Billboard Hot Gospel number 1 song "I Just Want to Say Thank You." Prior to that, Brooks was a member of the Gospel quartet Witness who has charted with hits such as "Clap Your Hands" and "Standard."
Brooks does step out of the scaffolds of traditional Gospel with a few pleasant surprises. Not known for her own song writing prowess, it is indeed a treat to see her name as the sole writer for "Better than Life." Co-produced by her son Justin Brooks, this is soul stirring ballad of thanks for God's surpassing love. Easily the album's apotheosis is "The Wonder:" featuring a hip heavy dance beat, auto-vocalization and some really funky trumpets, this is an amalgamation of dance, hip hop, Gospel, and funk all rolled into one. This is the type of songs that will go viral among younger fans. Another song destined to pique hearts is "Great is Thy Faithfulness." The way Brooks sings it is not what you will normally hear in church. Starting off with a newly written verse before the organ conjures the familiar sound of the well-beloved hymn, this is Brooks at her creative best. Fans who like their Gospel traditional fetching the spiritual punch of a full choir will not be disappointed with "Empower Me."
Not only is there a plethora of styles represented here, but the lyrics touches on an array of subjects too. "Heal the Land," though the last third of the song gets stretch a little too thin melody wise is a prayer for revival. While the finger snappy lead single "God Thing" presents a litany of situations where we have to seek God's wisdom rather than depending on ourselves. "Triumph" is a rousing declaration of victory over Satan over a traditional Gospel sound. And more evangelistic in focus is album opener "More" - a hook-laden finger snapping mid-tempo tune--- it will get us thinking of the purpose of life in ways that are searching without being intimidating.
If you really like to hear Brooks at her vocal best, take a listen to "Love Somebody Else." Here we are able to witness Brooks' trademark hybrid of her hallowing passion and her vocal acrobatics in gorgeous display. Also, lyrically "Love Somebody Else" is one of the most Biblical informed songs about loving others. Love can never exist in a vacuum; rather we can only love when our hearts have been stuffed with the love of God. "Ready" is by no means a sloppy album. Thanks to hubby Michael Brooks, this record is choked full of meaty Biblical truths for us to chew on. And Brooks herself takes no concession in the singing department; she sings with so much passion that she could blow the roof off with her overflowing love for Jesus Christ.