Susan Whisnant - For the Life of Me
Producer: Jim Brady/Jeff Whisnant
Label: Independent Release
Known for her heart stirring ballads like "Is Anything too Hard for God", "What You Took from Me" and "Even in the Valley", Susan Whisnant is a recognizable name and voice to fans of the Whisnants and the Southern Gospel industry. It was only a matter of time before she released a solo recording. Produced by Jim Brady (Booth Brothers) and her husband, Jeff Whisnant, this recording definitely stretches her vocally on a few songs, but overall there are no real surprises. This is pretty much the recording I expected from to come from her and Brady did a great job showcasing Susan at her vocal best.
The title song, "FOR THE LIFE OF ME", sets the tone for recording before things move on to one of the major highlights of the recording for me, "APART FROM YOU", written by Marcia Henry. The pace picks up for the soulful, "WONDERFUL LIFE", which was written by Henry along with Chris Binion.
"CHURCH ACROSS THE STREET" is the most striking and moving song on the recording. A song that may go over some people's heads, may also lend itself to conviction for those who do "get it". A gripping lyric, coupled with Susan's vocal makes this the true triumph of the recording. The song may never make it to radio, but it's the best offering on this recording.
Susan sings the emotionally tinged, "I'VE BEEN THERE" before picking up the pace again with the country flavored, "THE OTHER SIDE OF GRACE", which is one of three tunes penned by Susan along with Monty Allen and Robert Arthur.
Jeff Whisnant joins Susan on the wonderful love song penned by Melissa Brady entitled, "I DELIGHTED IN THE LORD" before moving on to a moving prayer in song taken from Psalms 51:10 entitled, "CREATE IN ME".
The tune simply titled, "THAT'S ALL" wins the 'most progressive tune award' for the album. Far away from anything the Whisnants would probably ever record, it was a nice surprise to hear Susan stretching herself a bit and give us a bit of a departure for her norm. Another departure from the norm is the inclusion of the Mark Hall penned, Casting Crowns recorded tune, "LOVE THEM LIKE JESUS". As Susan wraps herself around the lyric of this tune, it's clear that Susan was made to sing songs like this. The recording ends with a song about love for family and love for God entitled, "UNCONDITIONAL LOVE".
While I would have liked to hear another upbeat song or two (there are only three on the recording), I didn't come into this recording expecting more than that and I did enjoy this recording very much. Susan picked songs that fit her, but also did manage to find a couple of tunes to showcase in a different light, and those songs did work out well for her. The production quality of the recording is above par and the quality of the songs themselves we as such too. This is truly an exceptional piece of work.
Personal Favs: FOR THE LIFE OF ME; APART FROM YOU; CHURCH ACROSS THE STREET; THE OTHER SIDE OF GRACE; CREATE IN ME