Darlene Zschech has made a name for herself over the past five years since her insanely popular hit "Shout To The Lord" made Zschech (pronounced "check") a name people recognize, as well as a name often associated with worship music. Darlene started out as a vocal director then as worship pastor for Hillsong Church Australia, where she continues to "lead a worldwide modern worship revolution." Kiss Of Heaven fulfills Darlene's dream of finally recording a solo album that breaks away from the typical live worship Hillsong release. In fact, fans will be pleasantly surprised at her song choices for her solo debut.
While many of the songs on Kiss Of Heaven have choral support behind Zschech at key moments, Darlene is the spotlighted vocal talent here, and it's well-deserved. Her vocals are mature and strong enough to carry this modern worship release, although they may not be stylized enough for some listener's tastes. Musically, the album is very melodic and layered with an almost live feel at times, but it really isn't anything you haven't heard before. Is that a problem? Not really. Zschech is good at what she does. She's passionate, and the vocal power she displays on her studio rendition of "Shout To The Lord" can rival that of Celine Dion or CeCe Winans.
"Wonderful You" is a different musical approach for Darlene as it gives the instrumentation of a radio pop song while being nothing short of an intimate worship song. While Darlene is known for her congregational arrangements, "Wonderful You" is a refreshing change for her. In fact, as I listen to the record, I can't help but wish to hear a more stripped-down production for her. Her vocal talents are so strong, it's a shame she sings with as much background support as she does because she could do just fine alone. The electronic rhythms are relatively overdone for the genre so they don't really add much to most of the songs, but remain sufficient enough. The music is clearly enhanced, however, when live drums are introduced on tracks like "Thankful."
Kiss Of Heaven closes with an interesting addition - a cover of U2's hit "Walk On" featuring a duet with Delirious' frontman Martin Smith. While it's really hard to adjust to hearing a female lead sing the famous song (and because it's so familiar, that doesn't help), it's a special treat to hear Smith provide vocals on a U2 song considering he oftentimes can be compared to Bono. Zschech gives the song further intriguing treatment as it concludes with an all-out choral backdrop belting out a series of "Hallelujah's."
I'm happy to hear Darlene venture out of the typical and stretch her wings more artistically with Kiss Of Heaven than she's been able to do before. It's a refreshing worship release that revives some old favorites and introduces you to - dare I say - often stronger new ones. If you're a fan of modern worship, you won't want to overlook Darlene Zschech's Kiss Of Heaven.- Review date: 10/13/03, written by John DiBiase
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