Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
Although Niki released a couple of singles in 2007 and 2010, it's been eight years since her last album, but it's finally here. Continuing in her urban gospel style, Niki has teamed up with three different British production teams to present us with a selection of songs punctuated by interludes, in a way reminiscent of '90s R&B albums from the likes of New Edition. Immediate impressions are of vibrant life, energy and grooving arrangements, and powerful use of Scripture to unashamedly proclaim words of truth. The title "Words Of Life" is most apt, the overarching themes being of deliverance from a life of sin, shame and fear to abundant life and love and future glory. After the opening short declaration that "There is no one like our God," listing some of his attributes, the 2007 single "Don't Conform" kicks in with the exhortation from Romans 12, "Don't conform to the standards of this world, let God transform by completely renewing your mind." A wise decision has been made to use one of the faster paced remixes from the single release rather than the original radio edit, which lacked power. Continuing the theme of release from fear, "God Won't Leave" confidently declares "Not at any time, he won't walk away, his love never fails, God won't leave" and includes a rap of the well known "Footprints" poem. The album draws to a close by looking to the future with "Heaven Is", featuring a wistful piano motif as the song looks forward to the "perfect place," followed with the bright, anticipatory "Coming Again". These are then followed by a couple of pumping remixes of "Spirit Of Power" for added value. Niki's voice is rich and her vocal harmonies only occasionally have minor intonation issues. There is one oddity and that is "Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing" - it's in mono! It really stands out from the tracks either side, almost as if a monitor mix ended up on the CD, with a much smaller sound and some vocal distortion. Hopefully this wasn't a deliberate decision. . .if it was, it wasn't a good one. In summary though, Niki's great voice coupled with good production and a clear, effective message, make this a winner.
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