Toni Rackard - Are You Ready For War?
By Andrea R. Williams
Toni Rackard’s first solo release, Are You Ready For War? is a celebration of gospel music with elements of contemporary gospel, urban gospel, praise and worship and even some smatterings of smooth and straight ahead jazz. Produced by Lewis Bryant (with the exception of two songs), the 12-track project uses different sounds to deliver some great music with the message of the gospel front and center.
Especially on tracks like the first song, “I Can See The Light.” The ballad is a slow, inspirational track of hope. Toni sings to the listener with lyrics sprinkled with glimmers of hope. The song is sung from the point of view of a dedicated lover of God. With a straight ahead jazz leaning, Skip Scarborough’s tune, “Lovely Day” is given a new interpretation with Toni’s laid back vocals. Made famous by Bill Withers and more recently by Kirk Franklin, the song is a classic and Toni takes it to new heights with her jazzy, smoothed-out rendition.
“Unconditional Love” is a song filled with some serious funk and a dose of strong inspiration. The devoted Christian will have no problem groovin’ to the God-focused lyrics and urban vibes of the track. The title tune, “Are You Ready For War?”, is another contemporary gospel groove with a thick back beat. Reminding us of the spiritual battle we’re in on a daily basis, Rackard delivers a very convincing performance on this song. By the end of this 4-minute musical jewel, the singer, also a co-writer, will assure you that she is indeed “Ready For War”.
An interesting mix of praise and worship and urban stylings, Toni beckons the Lord to take control on “Arise Within Us”, a mid-tempo musical offering. Opening with some words of victory, Toni revisits the theme of war within the funk-filled sounds of “Cry Of War”. Those ready to get their praise on will truly enjoy the upbeat, praiseworthy track, “Let Us Dance”.
Toni’s mellow soprano vocals provide a captivating performance on the surrendering track, “I Give My Life To You”. Clearly sung from the heart of someone truly in love with the Lord, the song is powerful one. One of the strongest tracks on Are You Ready For War?, “Lord I Cry For You”, finds Toni displaying a heart-rending performance over an R&B groove.
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