Yolanda Adams
Mountain High...Valley Low

Yolanda Adams comes out the blocks smoking with her debut release on her new label, Elektra Records.

Mountain High…Valley Low presents a virtual army of producers and musicians to help her serve up her signature mix of steady groove gospel with a pinch of the classics.

The first single is “That Name”, a contemporary anthem by Richard Smallwood. The arrangement Mountain High...Valley Low CDis so superb it almost eclipses Yolanda’s vocals. Almost. Somehow never out of his element, and managing to never take the artist out of theirs, Smallwood weaves a web of musical splendor around Yolanda’s stellar vocals. Vision steps in to provide background vocals. And the master producer brings in Smallwood regular Darrin Atwater who arranges supporting strings so incredible they could be recorded on their own merit!

“Yeah” is an infectious groove driven by acoustic guitar and just a touch of vocoder. Supporting the claim that ‘yes’ is among the highest order of praises, “Yeah” does it Y2K style. With Dave Foreman on guitar, the song is produced by Warryn Campbell.

In a tune written to share how Yolanda dealt with the death of her friend and road manager, “Fragile Heart” speaks to the very human side of losing a loved one. Words like “I can’t imagine going on without you in my life”, and “I ain’t got no time to pretend that I’m not missing you” address the real struggle of the next day. She goes on to share, though, that:

"When I think about, think about life,
Lord I think of you.
I forget about everything else.
There’s only you and I can’t think about ever givin’ up,
Ever givin’ up the fight.
The only thing that matters
When I’m goin’ thru
Is givin’ my fragile heart right back to you"

This Toni Braxton-esque mid-tempo song is produced by Buster and Shavoni and hides the treasure of Ricky Grundy on strings.

Yolanda says that “In the Midst of it All”, Kevin Bond authored and produced, willYolanda Adams probably be compared to “The Battle is the Lord’s” on her Save the World album. In a familiar formula, but definitely it’s own song, “The Midst” starts out with the lovely tinkling on the keys by Bond behind Yolanda and builds to include a full choir that eventually winds into a drive that goes on and on until you just can’t take anymore!

Other highlights include “Open my Heart”, a ballad written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, featuring Stokley of Mint Condition on drums. Kelly Price joins Yolanda for “Coming Back”. Fred Hammond writes and produces on “Continual Praise”, an uptempo jam complete with background vocals.

You can’t go wrong with this release that offers a lot of something to everyone. The project manages continuity and flow despite the diverse range of producers. A testimony to great production and Adams’ broad ability and appeal, Mountain High…Valley Low manages to be a jack of all trades and a master of them too.

Be sure to check out interview with Yolanda on this project

Producers: Various
album release date: September 21, 1999
Elektra Records

— reviewed by Melanie Clark —

  All content in GospelFlava © copyright 1999. Any information reprinted
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