Crystal Lewis was born in Corona, California on September 11, 1969. Early on, she was a performer in a musical called Hi Tops. When she was sixteen she put out an album with Wild Blue Yonder on Frontline Records. They were “a pop/country/rock-a-billy band of sorts”. She released her first solo album BEYOND THE CHARADE in 1987 when she was eighteen. Crystal married Brian Ray in 1989. After her third album LET LOVE IN in 1990, she and Brian started their own company, Metro One. She performed at several Harvest Crusades and taped the show ‘Roundhouse’ for the Nickelodeon Network. She continued to release solo albums, including THE BRIDE in 1993. GREATEST HITS (1995, Metro One/Myrrh) is what I’ll be reviewing here.
First up is ‘Come Just as You Are’, written by Joe Sabolick. John Andrew Schreiner plays keys and accordion, while Crystal and Annie Barbour sing backing vocals. It is a pretty inspirational ballad of spiritual invitation: “Come just as you are/Hear the Spirit call/Come just as you are/Come and see, come receive/Come and live forever/Life everlasting/Strength for today/Taste the living water/And never thirst again”. Bill Baumgart, Tim Heintz, Michael Campion, and Craig Friberg wrote ‘Frustrated’. It is a pop/dance number that deals with life’s ups and downs: “Your life is like a roller coaster climbing to the very top/I think there’s something you should know sir/You’re headed for the deepest drop.../Frustrated, aggravated/Each time you fall/Frustrated, simply stated/Wait on His call”.
‘Precious Lord’ is a reverent prayer: “When my way grows drear/Precious Lord, linger near/When my life is almost gone/Hear my cry, hear my call/Take my hand lest I fall/Take my hand, Precious Lord/And lead me home”. Hal Spencer and Loren Stalnecker wrote ‘Bloodstained Pages’. It is a gospel song of great Christian testimony: “Oh the pages have been stained by the blood He shed for me/Praise God, I can’t read them/Neither can He/What’s been forgiven is forgotten and impossible to see/Bloodstained pages stained by blood/Shed for me”.
Jackie Gouche wrote ‘You Didn’t Have to do It’. It is a slow R&B song of gratitude to Christ: “You didn’t have to suffer/You didn’t have to give Your life/You could have come down from the cross but You chose to die/You said ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’/And when they pierced Your side/You just hung, bled, and died”. ‘Let Love In’ is one of four songs on this compilation written by Brian Ray. It is a groovy R&B song with a nice electric guitar solo, that includes these Scriptural thoughts: “If you lose your life you will gain it back surely in the end/What you’ve done unto the least of men/You’ve done it unto Him/If we all can open up and let love in”.
‘I Must Tell Jesus’ makes it clear Crystal knows just where her help comes from: “I must tell Jesus all of my troubles/He is a kind, compassionate Friend/If I but ask Him He will deliver/Make of my troubles quickly an end/I must tell Jesus (2X)/I cannot bear these burdens alone/I must tell Jesus (2X)/Jesus can help me/Jesus alone”. Graham Kendrick’s 1987 classic ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ is next. Peter Jacobs and Scott Blackwell produced this fun dance version of spiritual longing: “Shine Jesus shine/Fill this land with the Father’s glory/Blaze Spirit blaze/Set our hearts on fire/Flow river flow/Flood the nation with grace and mercy/Send forth Your Word/Lord and let there be light”.
‘I Now Live’ is a catchy pop song featuring the hip-hop stylings of Peace 586. It serves as a testimonial: “Many people in the world will never truly be set free/The only reason that we live is/Christ came down and died for you and me/I now live because Christ died and though He had suffered/He suffered it all for me”. Crystal and husband Brian Ray wrote the gorgeous ballad ‘Remember’. It is centered around the events of Easter: “Early Sunday morning came/The stone had been rolled away/They stepped inside the empty grave/Alone in dismay/They were thinking He was gone/They were not believing/Death of the Lamb did bring/Forgiveness and healing/Why do you seek Him here among the dead?/He is risen!”
‘Only Fools’ contains these words for us to ponder: “I no longer see things controlling me/You have spoken, I have listened/Only fools believe in only what they see/The wise are rich indeed/What a friend we have in Jesus/He hears all our cries/But if you listen/You’ll hear Him crying too”. ‘You’ll Be Back for Me’ is a terrific rock song of great spiritual anticipation, with great electric guitar work: “Here He comes to claim His chosen bride/All the redeemed and the purified/An unmistakable sound/Shining in Your glory/There will be a thousand years of peace/All the pain, sorrow, and sin will cease/An unmistakable sound/Shining in Your glory/You’ll be back for me (2X)/I will be ready/Waiting for Your return”.
‘Amazing Grace’ is delivered in a mostly traditional manner. The last verse here anticipates Heaven: “When we’ve been there 10,000 years/Bright shining as the sun/We’ve no less days to sing my God’s praise/Than when we first begun”. Last up is John Willison’s ‘My Redeemer Lives’ (1993, Vineyard/Mercy Publishing). It is a lovely song of praise and victory: “For I know my Redeemer lives/And in the end He will stand on the earth/For I know my Redeemer lives/And in the end He will reign on the earth/Though my flesh it be destroyed/Yet with my eyes I will see God/For I know that my Redeemer lives and I will stand with Him on that day (2X)”.
Crystal Lewis has one of the most powerful, distinct, piercing voices in all of music! She could likely hold her own with Christina Aguilera. GREATEST HITS is everything a greatest hits package should be. There is a nice mix of slow and fast songs, drawing from gospel, inspirational, pop/rock, and R&B music. Crystal belts the Gospel message out when appropriate, and sings in softer, gentler tones when it is called for. Jesus Christ is presented as our Redeemer and loving Friend and Ultimate Victor on this record. Listening to these songs will grow your faith and trust in Him. The CD packaging is beautiful and flowery. I’m rating GREATEST HITS a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.crystallewis.com.