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REVIEW: Kim Hopper – Softly & Tenderly

Producer: Information Not Provided
Label: John Darin Rowsey
Website: www.thehoppers.com

There are names in music that need no introduction. Kim Hopper is one of those artists. Starting out singing with her family The Greenes then ultimately marrying into the Hopper family, Kim has the accomplishments and accolades of more Soprano singers in all of Gospel music as the longest winning streak since 1997. There is a reason she is incomparable and why every year she is voted the favorite. It has been 13 years since a new solo album has been released, so it is long overdue. However, this album is a different approach all together. Rather than something big and flashy, the appeal of this album is simple without any really big show stopping numbers. It’s just songs the way they would be sung on a
Sunday morning.

The album opens with that great Red Back Church Hymnal classic “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted” with fiddles, guitar, and percussion. It’s a great way to set the pace for this project. The next track is probably the highlight since it has a guest vocalist on it none other than Michael English joining Kim on the Rusty Goodman classic “Leaving’ on My Mind.” The Hoppers recorded “Until Then” on their hymns album, but Kim under the production of John Darin Rowsey has recorded an even simpler version here and delivers and communicates the lyric as only she can. When Joseph Scriven wrote “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” he endured so much, but still from that adversity came these lyrics. Kim gives one of my favorite performances of this great hymn of the faith.

Anytime that I’ve heard “Won’t It Be Wonderful There,” I’ve always felt that it needed a Celtic style treatment, and finally that’s what it gets here. The extra lilt makes this track a standout. If there was ever a song that can touch the listener in a way, it’s the lyrics found in the classic “When He Reached Down His Hand for Me.” This is the only time with a “high note,” but it’s nothing stratospheric. It still retains that reserved easy listening feel of this album. This is reflective, not performance. I think apart from “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art,” probably the third most popular hymn is “In the Garden.” Kim’s storytelling vocals are prevalent here as she delivers this song. Ira Stanphill wrote many songs, but I think “Mansion Over the Hilltop” is one of his best. I’ve always loved this song, the melody, and the lyrics. It’s another great classic.

Now we get to a Momma Dottie song, and you can’t go wrong with “Sheltered in the Arms of God.” This is another one of those songs that just has a special place in everyone’s heart when you hear it. “Joy Unspeakable” takes us to church and picks up the pace a little bit. This is the one track where things are kicked up a bit and it throws in a chorus of “A New Name in Glory.” It’s very fun! I’ve always said that “Softly and Tenderly” is a song we would sing Sunday after Sunday. I feel like we just sang it, but we never listened to it. Now you get a chance to listen to these beautiful lyrics in the quiet and reflect.

Softly and Tenderly from Kim Hopper is a different kind of album. There are no big ballads. No soaring vocals. It’s just quiet reflections, and contemplative prayers. It’s a great album to listen to during your prayer time or when you just need some quiet time alone.

Shane Sparks
Contributing Writer/Reviewer