Reviewed by Paddy Hudspith
Best known for the international worship standard "Our God Reigns" (dating back to 1974), Lenny Smith, now in his 70s, has continued to compose constantly although recording has been less prolific. The press release accompanying 'Who Was And Is And Is To Come' suggests that this is because his organic, honest folk/country style fell out of fashion in the 1980s but that a resurgence featuring the likes of Johnny Cash in the 90s (which, one could argue, continues to this day with the critically-lauded likes of Mumford And Sons) renewed interest in his work. This is his first release since 2001's 'Deep Calls To Deep', and the 13 tracks here are apparently just the first of a total of 26 coming our way, recorded during some very productive sessions with an ensemble of musicians in which his own children and grandchildren were heavily represented. The folksy, down-home instrumentation holds up very well; he has talented offspring! The songs are strong, catchy worship offerings for the most part, usually quoting Scripture very closely, which can make for some slightly unwieldy scanning such as on the Song of Songs-inspired "Leaning On My Beloved". Smith's voice holds up very well, shades of Glen Campbell at times. Repeated listens reveal quite a few "growers" and a depth of integrity which is powerful. Welcome back, Lenny!
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