Eddy Mann's CD 'Re: Prize' Offers Christian Music To Praise, Glorify, and Uplift
Eddy Mann has seven Christian worship CD’s under his belt and his newest release is akin to a greatest hits album. “Re: Prize” is a 12-song retrospect of fan favorites remastered and sometimes remixed from his previous albums including ‘The Twelve’, ‘Something Beautiful & New’ and ‘Who We Are.’ All the tracks were written or co-written by Mann and they feature some of the finest musicians in the industry.
Christians, and anyone looking for spiritual inspiration, will appreciate the albums focus on gratitude and praise as well as the more reflective songs that speak of a personal journey and relationship with Jesus Christ. Fans of acoustic Christian music will relate to this album because it is not overproduced; it is filled with steel-string finger-picking guitar straight from Mann’s hands and his heart. If you don’t own one of Mann’s earlier CD’s, then pick up “Re: Prize.” It's great way to get acquainted with a truly humble artist who has a wonderful gift to offer.
The album starts with “Beautiful Day” which begins directly with the main refrain, “Oh Lord It’s a Beautiful Day. All of creation is singing your praise. The heavens are swaying in a joyful way. Oh Lord it’s a beautiful day.” This chorus is sung twice with variations on the lyrics allowing followers to catch-on and sing along, hymn style. It is then followed by a response, “Lord be Glorified, Lord be Glorified.” The song sets the stage for what Mann is all about—Giving glory to God. Encompassed by a gentle acoustic sound of finger-picking guitar and a basic walking bass line, "Beautiful Day" is a fine example of less-is-more. There’s no big contemporary production here; just a man and his guitar and a song of praise in his heart. Mann’s voice is in his comfort zone with a tinge of folk. “Beautiful Day” is exactly the kind of song that worshipers can start their day or a service with. It’s welcoming, joyful and grateful.
The next song “All is of Grace” is a nice contrast to the sparse Beautiful Day. It’s an up-tempo that sways. The mood and the chorus are contagious. “All is of Grace. Come see and taste. Unconditional Love. Overflowing from above.” The songs offers hope and encouragement, “Try as I may. I’m short by the end of each day, but another sun will rise to wash away the tears from my eyes.” There’s a good percussive beat and a very nice electric guitar solo that sings.
“We Stand in God’s Grace” has a mild gospel feel. I love the opening which sounds like an acapella chorus over a walking bass with a few chords placed for color. There are several singers adding to the rich choral harmony including Jimmy Lennon, Chelsea Delgado, Kelly Graber, Leslie Rickerson and Mary Rickerson. The song eventually breaks into a full band with bass, percussion, electric guitar and organ. As it moves along, an off-beat groove enters giving it a nice popular feel. The musicianship is exemplary. It ends with a repeat of the choir and a ritardando to the end.
“We are the Body of Christ” is about community. Parishes looking for something that will unite people with purpose will value this song. “We lift up our voices as one. We carry the banner of peace. We hold ourselves accountable. We are the body of Christ.” After “We are the Body of Christ.” There’s a nice change in meter in the next song which is presented in 6/8 time. “My Grateful Heart” opens with a lovely mandolin introduction. Bob Sarz plays mandolin and the double stringed, small instrument has a big effect. It gives the song a folk sparkle. Enters a second vocalist, Kelly Garber, and the song is now a duo. Kelly and Mann sounds great and together.
“Something Beautiful And New” is a moving, beautiful and introspective song about change and one of the best songs on the album. In this song, Mann gets deeply personal and talks about his own path which he describes as sometimes “getting out of hand”, but he does so without ever feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he is filled with gratitude and he is willing to let go and ask for rebirth. In the chorus, Mann spills his guts, “Hear my soul cry out to You. Feel my heart reveal its shame. Create in me something beautiful and new. I pray this in Your name.” Here, Mann is showing us, through his music, that one can be saved. True change is possible. I think Mann is at his best in this song. It is coming from deep within his heart and you can hear an edge of raw emotion in his voice which was previously subdued. He is not the kind of artist that seeks the spotlight so he's slightly restrained, but when he puts his heart on the line, he shines. There are lovely vocal harmonies and as always the musicians are polished and tasteful.
“Lead Me Down the Road” is another well-written song. You expect it to break into a big chorus, but Mann sticks to a structure that avoids the pop music model. As always there’s nice guitar work. And speaking of nice guitar work, the next song, “I Never Walk Alone” has a great guitar intro which moves in and out of thirds through lightly sprinkled arpeggios. As Mann fades out on the lyrics, “You are with me,” the opening guitar riff returns to complete the structure. “Grace Wondrous Grace” follows with lyrics about a longing to embrace the mystery of grace itself. It also has a lovely ending with a reference to the classic song “Amazing Grace, I was blind, but now I see.”
“Living My Life” is up next with a nice twist on the lyrics because Mann’s not singing about living his life, his way; he’s singing about living his life through God’s eyes. “Living My Life has everything to do with how I treat you. Living My Live through my father’s eyes.” This is a strong song about giving over your life to a greater purpose. “My back is yours, to lean on when troubled, to comfort you, My legs are yours, to share on your journey, to see you through; My heart is yours, to feel your pain, to know your tears; My voice is yours, to speak your sake, to cry your fears.” “Bring it All” follows with a message about giving. “Only for you, do I bring it all.” It was co-written by Scott Merill. With “Bring it All”, there is more of a standard form with verses, a chorus, a bridge and a solo section. The guitar solo is melodic and soothing.
The album ends with “Your Will Be Done in Me.” It is in a minor key with a vamping bass-chord structure on the eighth notes throughout. It was co-written by Susan Hoffman who also plays some of the percussion on the album. It’s a great song about preserving and living without fear, but also about asking for help. The song features a lovely duo with vocalist Chelsea Delgado accompanied by a flute solo. Delgado’s vocals are very nice and Mann and Delgado sound great together. The flute is wonderful in Manns’ music and after hearing it, I think Mann should incorporate more flute to his tracks as it complements the acoustic guitar so well. The flute solo stays in alto range and it’s really superb. This was one of my favorite tracks. It has some interesting harmonies and a good melodic structure that isn’t always predictable.
Overall, Mann delivers his best on this CD and his best is not about him; it’s about providing worshipers with inspirational songs that they can sing to, rejoice to, worship with, praise and glorify God. Mann is reminiscent of the days prior to big contemporary Christian song production and fans of folk, acoustic guitar, and earthy Christian music with a folk sensibility will love this CD.
Mann is singer-songwriter, musician, worship leader, teacher, speaker, coach, husband, and father. Up on the radar, he is touring Virginia and Tennessee then onto the IMEA Awards. You can purchase his music on iTunes.