Mary Tiller is back, and this time on her own. The former member of the group Anointed last appeared on the group’s The Call album from 1995.
It’s been a long seven years, but her voice is as memorable as ever as she returns with full force on her solo debut, The Journey on Eve of Destiny Music.
Tiller uses the album concept to portray her life’s journey the peaks, the valleys and her strength derived from God through it all.
Don’t be lulled by the tranquil album cover. Amidst some nice strings-filled ballads there is plenty spice on the project, with collaborations from urban production maestro Jet Penix as well as Dawkins and Dawkins.
Pleasing mid-tempo cuts such as “Strong” (based on Phillipians 4:13) bring in some of Nashville's finest session vocalists (Darwin Hobbs, Leanne Palmore, Tiffani Ransom and others). “Angels Rejoicing” also falls into this camp, as does the Daniel Winans’ song “My Prayer of Thanks” both featuring the renowned Roger Ryan behind keyboards and strings.
Mr. Solo from Gospel Gangstaz steps in for some brief guest flows on “Gotta Praise”, a groovesome number with production from Jet Penix that features Tiller repeating the hook, “praises goin’ up, praises comin’ down, praises movin’ everywhere”.
Other pleasing up-tempo cuts are the encourager “Turn It Around” with its electric guitar and bongos adding flava.
The Latin feel of “It’s Time to Dance” with its horns, salsa rhythms and guitar finds just the right balance between vocals, harmony and bounce. “It Was The Blood” is a swinging cover of familiar lyrics, with a touch of traditional base.
But the album’s masterpiece is “Heaven Knows”, a brilliantly tender simmer of a song that brings in Dawkins and Dawkins on vocals as well as on production and co-writing. Testifying that no matter what the nature of our life’s trials (and in particular referencing the pain of losing a loved one), that God knows it all and that His love “is all I need to endure all things”. Tiller’s sweetly-rendered phrasing is contrasted by Dawkins’ smooth track and woven harmonic vocals, freezing the entirety into memory.
This project is more than a collection of thirteen wondrous songs from a voice that has been absent for too long. Incorporating occasional spoken word testimony and a range of expression that moves from sorrow to joy and tied together by the comfort that Jesus Christ brings through it all, it truly is Mary Tiller’s Journey.
Eve of Destiny Music
— reviewed by Stan North —
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