Jessica Reedy - Transparent (2014)

Jessica Reedy
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At the center of gospel music, besides the anointing, are the artists’ testimonies that inspire the fans and believers to maintain their Christian walk.  In her short season of gospel music fame, Jessica Reedy has been very unafraid to bring all her testimonies and the forthright emotions along with them, while also balancing single parenthood and personal spiritual convictions.  On top of all those emotional mountains, the singer/songwriter’s climb throughout her BET's Sunday Bestroadto development as a young businesswoman running a record company has played out like a mini-drama that reality shows would fully feast on.

At the center of gospel music, besides the anointing, are the artists’ testimonies that inspire the fans and believers to maintain their Christian walk.  In her short season of gospel music fame, Jessica Reedy has been very unafraid to bring all her testimonies and the forthright emotions along with them, while also balancing single parenthood and personal spiritual convictions.  On top of all those emotional mountains, the singer/songwriter’s climb throughout her BET's Sunday Bestroadto development as a young businesswoman running a record company has played out like a mini-drama that reality shows would fully feast on. During the early stages of Sunday Best, Reedy was surprised on how she managed to surpass the competition, leading up to her runner-up status to Y'Anna Crawley.  Not surprisingly, her hard-earned efforts resulted in Reedy’s signing with Light Records/ E-One Entertainment, that produced a highly successful debut, From the Heart in 2011, charting several radio gems including “Put It On The Alter” and “Something Out of Nothing.”  She seemed more than well on her way to become another of Sunday Best’s royalty.  Yet something inside Reedy's turbulent spirit discovered she wanted to share her testimonies on an even deeper songwriting and business level.

Severing ties with Light Records after just one full-length project, she decided to plunge into the independent ranks.  And what a better way to start than by establishing her Purity Records imprint with her biggest single to date in “Better,” a song that explodes with Reedy’s praises to the Lord for her transformation and a plea for those to fight bitterness in their lives.  Yet, while “Better” was dominating the gospel airwaves for a substantial time, Reedy’s investment in putting together her Purity freshman effort was delayed for most of 2014 due to behind the scene production misfires, a devastating turn of events that tested Reedy’s spiritual mindset once again.   Finally, nearly ten months after her triumphant single, Reedy releases her more-than-appropriate testimonial statement in Transparent.

Transparent overflows with testimonies left and right, whether encouraging others to persevere through the storms or delivering raw praises to the Lord for His grace and mercy, all genuinely communicated with Reedy's rich alto.  Though the arrangement for "I Wanna Be Free" is sparse, Reedy mightily declares a special freedom in Christ and reaching for her destiny:  “Lord, I surrender to You / You can have my heart…my fears…my wants.”  While "I Know" claims the promises from Jeremiah 29:  "I know the plans I have for you to prosper you,” there is a battlefield scenario as personal spiritual convictions clash with the personal claiming of victories.  Do not let the title of “Hallellujah” fool you; it is a song about identity crisis in a ministry while finding a way to honor God through the insecurities: “I gotta’ praise my way out of this one.”  The shackle-breaking “Better” follows a similar songwriting line to "I Know" with a roller-coaster orchestration of quiet storm and gospel gusto. 

Though much of Transparent feels more reflective in nature, there are other moments that demonstrate Reedy’s strong musicality. “Grace” continues the admiration for the Lord in a sweet marriage of R&B and gospel:  “The love You showed me wants me want to do it right again." Reedy's mother, Mary Reedy, joins in on the shout it out quartet attitude of “Hold On.”  The ambient flow of praise, “Flow,” cries out for a moving of the Holy Spirit while dismissing the religious piety.  Shifting to funk frosted grooves, “Higher in Love” points out what areas to avoid that quench that Holy Spirit.  Yes, there are minimal letdowns on Transparent, primarily on “Good Day,” featuring rapper Ezekiel, that too closely mirrors the concept of Ice Cube’s, “Today Was a Good Day.”  But Reedy returns triumphantly to the cool neo-soul zone with “Keep it Moving,” sound advice towards not adding to that laundry list: “Your relationship failed/The people at work have been giving you hell/The bills are still coming/And you’re overwhelmed.”

While Transparent excels as a strong artistic body of work, the bottom line is that Reedy’s bold steps to share her testimonies and unadulterated worship in a completely honest light is why Transparent is one of the best gospel releases in recent years.  In essence, all these commendable attributes are what marks Transparent into a riveting Sunday Best experience.  Highly Recommended.       

By Peggy Oliver

 
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