Wednesday, January 18, 2012


     The year was 1987 when Crystal Lewis released her debut album BEYOND THE CHARADE.  Since then she has blazed a noteworthy trail for Contemporary Christian female artists following in her footsteps.  Her latest album is 2011's PLAIN AND SIMPLE (Metro One) produced by her son, Solomon Ray.  Artwork and photography are capably handled by her daughter Izzi Ray, who also sings background vocals on the album with her mom.  In the CD insert Crystal Lewis quotes I Corinthians 2:1-2 from The Message: "...When I first came to you to let you in on God's master stroke, I didn't try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy.  I deliberately kept it plain and simple;first Jesus and who He is;then Jesus and what He did..."  She adds: "The truth of the matter is Jesus is it.  The reason.  The point.  The truth.  The answer.  The why.  I pray that these songs convey that.  The extravagant simplicity of the Gospel..."
     The title track 'Plain and Simple' leads off the album and is smooth sounding.  It elaborates on Lewis' thoughts from the liner notes: "The plain and simple truth of it is Jesus loves me/Don't make the truth more complicated than it needs to be/Bought by blood, saved by grace, that's reality/That's the truth, it's plain and simple, anyone could see."  'Give me Jesus' written by Adam Watts has a modern sound to it.  It offers a path to healing for the soul: "It's easy to blame, it's hard to let grace wash away/The memories, all the words, the anger that braces the pain/But how long can you stay with your heart in the fire/With the hurt locked away, where nobody wins?/Fight through the wall, beat down the castle door/Brace for the fall, you don't need this anymore/Give it to Jesus."  'Revelation' is one of five songs solely penned by Crystal.  It is fresh sounding, ascribes worth to Jesus, and is based on Revelation 5:12: "Worthy is the Lamb...the spotless Lamb that was slain/Worthy is the receive power and riches and strength/Worthy is the receive honor and glory and praise."
     'Even the Rocks Cry Out', written with her husband Brian Ray, has a funky groove to it and speaks of the legacy she wants to leave: "Today as I live, even tomorrow when I'm gone/Let it be said of me/I opened my mouth, I let praise pour out/I lifted my voice above the crowd/From forgiven lips came, songs of endless praise/Loud and clear they rang/Even the rocks cry out/I will not be silent, I just have to praise Him."  'Name' is a song of gratitude to the Lord: "I love Your Name Savior/Freedom from chains Savior/You forgave my sin, delivered my soul/I love Your Name."  'I Don't Wanna Fall' is an easy rock number that confirms that she desires to please the Lord: "I have made mistakes/Fallen along the way/Made choices that I regret/Done things I'd like to forget/But I stand here now/Forgiven and free somehow/By the grace of God I see/Where I went wrong, where I want to be/I don't wanna fall again (4X)."
     'Daughter' is on the slower side and has God wanting to comfort His troubled and hurting child: "I want to hold your face in My hands/Remind you that I, I AM that I AM/Let My love wash away, the stains of the day/Don't fret or fear, I'm here/Daughter, I'm aware of your pain/I'm aware of your guilt and your shame/Daughter, the reason I came/To rescue, redeem and to save."  'All Day Long' testifies to the benefits of trusting in the Lord: "Evening approaches and darkens my door/With a fear, I admit it, I've felt before/But this time instead of dread forcing me to the floor/I sleep knowing peace through and through/For all day long, my hope was in You."  'I AM' is a wonderful song.  It is a strong reminder that God is never far from us: "In the midst of hardship, in the midst of pain/Don't you know that all you have to do is call My Name?/It may not be easy, the way may not be clear/Know my arm is not too short, my ear is quick to hear/Messiah, Savior, Son of Man/Provider, Protector, Redeemer, I AM."
     'Center of Gravity' written with her son Solomon, is the most experimental track musically.  It supports the account of creation in Genesis: "You spoke, the world began/All appeared at Your command/Your breath set the stars in place/You filled up sea and space/All things are held together/Not by cord or tether/Not by blood or bone/But by Your power alone."  'I Know You are the One' written by Brian and Izzi Ray is a great duet between Izzi and Crystal!  It speaks of a relentless pursuit of God: "With every step I move towards You/Everyday You make me new/I see You more clearly/I'll never stop until I see/You in all Your majesty/And I see You more clearly."
     PLAIN AND SIMPLE is plain and simply one of Crystal Lewis' best albums ever and certainly one of the best albums of 2011!  Vocally, the girl can still bring it, and musically, it is masterful, thanks to the playing of Solomon Ray, Jyro Xhan, Marc Ford, and Matt, Nic, and Jules Rodriguez.  This album should be getting much more airplay on today's Christian radio.  The Gospel message comes through in love loud and clear!  I'm recommending this album to fans of Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, and Rachael Lampa.  I'm rating PLAIN AND SIMPLE 95%.  For more info visit