Reviewed by Tom Lennie
Who can but be impressed with the 24/7 prayer that has been offered up from the International House Of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, 365 days a year since 1999? There's always been a strong link between that prayer and worship music. For, as anyone who's seen The Prayer Room in operation live on God TV will know, the Harp & Bowl model popular at IHOP takes the form of singers singing in response to what the intercessors pray. Through participation in this pioneering ministry many worship musicians have been raised up, generally with a prophetic slant. Around a dozen of those musicians appear on the latest release from Forerunner Music (a division of IHOP), the main inspiration of which is Misty Edwards. Her previous releases have won much acclaim from Cross Rhythms and elsewhere, but her name is still relatively unknown. 'Relentless' is a double offering; the main CD of which consists of 14 recent self-penned songs lasting a wonderful 74 minutes; the second disc contains eight "unplugged" tunes and lasts a comparatively meagre 62 mins! (opening with the gorgeous "Let It Rain", Disc 2 makes use of Misty's piano as sole accompaniment to render stripped-down versions of tracks appearing on Disc 1, along with various other, seemingly spontaneous, gems). These volumes are a magisterial work of creativity, from which passion simply oozes. Ms Edwards has a striking voice which exudes emotion as she pours out her heart to the Lord and engages with him in intimacy and devotion. Her lyrics are well crafted, packed with spiritual significance and entirely non-cliched. An example is where she wonderfully expresses the paradox of the Christian life in "Servant Of All". "I'm in love with a king who became a slave/I'm in love with a God who is humble/You gotta go down if you wanna go up/And you've gotta go lower if you wanna go higher and higher/Well you've gotta hide and do it in secret if you wanna be seen by God/'Cause it's the inside outside upside down kingdom/ Where you lose to gain and you die to live." Nearly all songs are vertical and many are personal prayer-cries. At times song-themes are almost embarrassingly intimate (not least on "Garden", where she pictures "You (the Lord) and me alone in the garden." The music is equally varied and always holds attention. Several tracks simply pound with energy; others start gently then build in atmosphere as the lead player loses herself in her Lord and Lover. A few more are tender love songs, and Misty's voice accommodates these melodic beauties as effortlessly as the gutsier numbers. A couple of songs include co-vocals from guitarist and co-producer David Brymer - his voice intertwines so well with Misty's that it's a shame they're not more prominent elsewhere. Perhaps the most unusual track is the 11-minute "People Get Ready", which contains a three-min spoken narrative centring on the Passion. This develops into a rock melodrama, making it hard to believe it's the one track on Disc 1 to be truly spontaneous. 'Relentless' serves, not just as a most enjoyable listen, but as a tool to quicken the spirit (it certainly does mine), to woo us into that deeper place with God, to enable us to fall as helplessly in love with him as this worshipper appears to be.
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