Arms Of Mercy

Kim Hill

Star Song Records, 1998

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Hill_(singer)

REVIEW BY: Michael Ehret

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/22/1999

Kim Hill's singing is like a head of foam on a frosty mug of root beer in mid-July: smooth, tasty and somehow soul-energizing.

And like the satisfaction that comes from a really good root beer, Hill's songs keep coming back to the listener over time bringing with them that same satisfied feeling. This is not an album that gets old with repeated listenings - but rather, it improves.

Arms Of Mercy is this talented singers second album of praise and worship music since her return to contemporary Christian music in 1997 with The Fire Again. While still as worshipful as that release, this new package also harks back to Hill's previous -- and best -- album, Brave Heart (1991), with many more up tempo, guitar-driven rock and roll songs.

Worshipful rock and roll? Yes, indeedy do! She gets things off to a rockin' start with the one- two-punch of the first single "Committed To The Call" and "Rain Of Your Mercy". Both are excellent examples of how rock and roll can be praise music and that the Devil doesn't have all the good music!

You know this is a true rock and roll album by the presence of rock queen Ashley Cleveland on "Committed To The Call". Cleveland herself is nominated for a Grammy this year in the Best Rock Gospel Album for her live set my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 You Are There. (Watch for a review right here! Same rock time, same rock channel.) Cleveland's coarse vocals contribute exquisitely to the gritty sound Hill achieves on the song.

Then, in "Rain Of Your Mercy", Hill sings about the undeserved mercy God showers on her at various times in her life:

Now, I've always heard about Your greatness/How showers of life flow from Your heart

Your death on the cross proves how much You love me/But I'm still surprised at how good You are

In the depths of my sin/Your mercy comes in/And shows me the depths of Your love

And it humbles my heart, tears me apart/Moves me to thank You my friend

For the rain of Your mercy.

Hill rarely writes her own songs, but when she sings a song you believe that she's lived it and would have written it if given time. While she may not have the confidence to pen an album's worth of songs, she has the taste to pick songs that not only showcase her talents, but speak to some serious issues: turning from God ("Hold Me Close"), Jesus Christ's second coming ("Shake The Heavens"), and, appropriate to our times, the appearance that evil is winning, ("Show The Way").

But it's not all rock and roll heaven. There are also plenty of praise songs which Hill's creamy alto caresses with the awe of one who has seen her own unworthiness in the light of God's glory. One such song is the album's centerpiece, "You Are Still Holy".

Here, in a song by Rita Springer, Hill captures the truth that no one, no not one, is worthy of God's mercy because of sin.

Lord, I don't deserve Your kind affection

When my unbelief has kept me from Your touch

I want my life to be a pure reflection of Your love

And so I come into Your chamber

And I dance at Your feet, Lord/You are my Savior

And I am at your mercy.

For the last few years, Hill has served as a worship leader for the Renew Your Heart women's conferences. Three of the songs on this project reflect that participation, including "You Are Still Holy," "You Alone" and "Up To The Moon".

The latter song, which closes the album, is a lullaby of sorts Hill did write for her sons, Graham and Benjamin. The words show her mother's heart:

I love you up to the moon/And I love you as big as the sky

I love to watch you when you sleep/I love to hold you when you cry.

Corny? Surely - but in Hill's understated delivery is the simple truth of motherhood: No one ever loves you like your Mom. This is a song for parents along the lines of Bob Carlisle's humongous 1997 hit "Butterfly Kisses," but not quite the sentimental sobfest that song was.

Rating: A

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© 1999 Michael Ehret and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Star Song Records, and is used for informational purposes only.