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CeCe Winans
Artist: CeCe Winans
Label: Wellspring Gospel/Sparrow

CeCe Winans kicks off her self-titled album CeCe Winans, the follow up to Gold-certified Alabaster Box, with the electrically fun anthem "Say A Prayer." Her smooth, silky vocals are accompanied by a fun contemporary beat that gives a nod to the hip pop/R&B stylings of the day. In the same vein, "More Than What I Wanted" is an instant hit: new millennium pop á la CeCe.

The veteran singer continues to croon on "Looking Back At You," bringing to mind the great soulful voices of Anita Baker or Whitney Houston. She flexes her vocal muscles on "Anybody Wanna Pray," and makes you "wanna pray" right then and there. Great dynamic and emotional ranges make CeCe Winans the enduring talent that she is.

"Heavenly Father" contains a catchy hook, backed by harmonious background vocals and a syncopated rhythm track. There is a plucky reprise at the end, too. Winans adds new style to her repertoire and lets the listener enjoy her musical growth without departing too far from her tried and true R&B expertise. Producers Brown Bannister and Tommy Sims mix tracks that are chock full of musical subtleties, but nothing obscures the focus from Winansí velvet voice.

The lyrics are sincere and simple; "Yea and Nay" has an "El Shaddai" motif that lends the touching duet an air of solemnity. Even more simple, "Holy Spirit come fill this place," is almost all Winans sings on "Holy Spirit," the now obligatory praise track required of all new pop and rock releases nowadays. Worship is a pervasive theme on the disc, and Winans handles it deftly with grace and charm. CeCe Winans is a must-have.

Zik Jackson
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