CeCe Winans -- Throne Room

CeCe Winans
Throne Room

As one of Gospel’s premiere artists, CeCe Winans stands alone in her ability to successfully bring multiple styles to the table from project to project.

Departing from the urban/pop feel of her previous award-winning album (see album review), on Throne CDRoom, Winans returns to the intimate praise and worship setting that marked her entry onto the solo arena in 1995 with the Platinum achieving and Grammy-winning Alone In His Presence.

No surprise, the musical artistry of the project is ultra excellent. Longtime collaborators Cedric and Victor Caldwell are at the producer’s table, orchestrating a soft but rich backdrop to the entire set of sixteen studio tracks, allowing Winans to flow with her distinctive vocals in a subtle variety of settings.

Appropriate to a worship album, several of the songs are in fact prayers.

The album’s centerpiece is the title cut, a song which comes from the pen of Andrae Crouch. “Throne Room” captures the essence of the album. With lush orchestration that includes harp and swelling strings motivated by occasional soft rhythmic pushes, Winans sings in muted, hushed tones:

Welcome to the Throne Room
Welcome to the place where He shows His face
Oh, worship in spirit and in truth

Guitar work from Carlos Pennell and various chunky island percussion dominates on the peppy “Just Like You, Jesus”, where Winans puts to song a prayer that expresses her desire to walk, pray and be like Jesus. Melinda Dolittle’s backing vocal support adds the right touch of style.

Following in like theme is “Heart Like Yours”, a ballad based on Ezekiel 11:19. Over a gentle chorus from Born Again Church Choir, Winans again sings with an awareness of and a sensitivity to the beauty of the lyric.

“Mercy Said No”, first recorded by Greg Long, finds a special spot on the album, for Winans dedicates it to her brother Ronald in celebration and thanks to God for miraculously restoring him from his deathbed after a heart attack several years ago.

Winans has made a habit of finding gorgeous song material and bringing them to life. She does that again her with John Ragsdale Jr.’s “We Thirst For You”. Don’t be surprised if the tenderly infectious melody makes the rounds of hit cuts from this project. LeAnne Palmore, Jerard Woods and Jovaun Woods add strongly rendered backing vocals.

Mellowed out worship is the focus of much of the middle part of the project. Winans demonstrates that simplicity can sometimes be best on her cover of the well known hymn “How Great Thou Art”. Then on “You Are Holy”, over layers and beds of sustained and plucked strings, she subtley deconstructs the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”, fashioning it into small phrases taken from the text of Revelation 4:8.

CeCe Winans Check these additional features on CeCe Winans:

Interview with CeCe Winans (2003)
Interview with CeCe Winans (2001)
Interview with CeCe Winans (1999)

Much less restrained is “Come Fill My Heart”, where Winans soars into familiar vocal territory and “Hallulujah Praise” with its repeated chorus ‘hallulujahs’ alternating back and forth with Winans’ vocal line, its uptempo groove and guitar from maestro Paul Jackson Jr. making it a raucous expression of joy.

(An added bonus to the CD project is the inclusion of DVD elements —full performances of "Alabaster Box", "No One" and "More Than I Wanted" from her prior release, plus behind-scenes footage of Winans on tour and backstage. The DVD bonus is limited to the first 100,000 copies of the audio CD sold).

Ably demonstrating that indeed, worship is where her heart is, CeCe Winans puts her both her praise-laden heart and her gloriously gifted musical soul into this recording.

Producers: Cedric and Victor Caldwell
album release date: September 9, 2003
PureSpringsGospel Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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