Alpha Omega News
Sara Renner is an independent artist from the Minneapolis, MN area where she’s worked up a fervent reputation as a singer/songwriter. Prior to becoming a solo artist, Sara spent some time crafting her skills with Three Soul Cry. “Elements of the Journey”, Sara’s third solo recording, was released in October of 2004.
“Elements of the Journey” abounds with faith-filled gospel songs that take on many musical forms. The styles on Elements include jazz, soul, and gospel and Sara’s vocal talents stand out on all. I particularly like the jazzy-gospel tune called “Elements Of Life”, and the funky “Dancin’ in the Light.” This last one sounds similar to the funky styling of Nicole C. Mullen. My personal favorite though is Sara’s rendition of Margaret Becker’s “Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer.” This song comes across as the best vocal performance on the whole CD – wistful and emotive.
If you like adult contemporary music, but you want an added twist of spice then I highly suggest that you check out Sara Renner at www.sararenner.com. Her web site has a detailed biography, song samples, and purchasing information.
Minnesota is known for its cold weather, its sports teams and its eclectic music scene, with artists such as The Sounds of Blackness, Prince, and Excelsior. Sara Renner now enters with Elements of the Journey, a wonderful blend of jazz, light pop, R&B and funk.
“Simple Things” is a smooth jazz tune with Sara’s easy listening voice singing of how she enjoys life’s simple things.
Get your dancing shoes ready and enjoy, “The Elements of Life”, complete with Billy Steele’s B3 work, some nice background singing, and Renner’s sassyness. The song has that right blend of funk and Gospel.
“Dancing in the Light” is another funky number, this one encouraging people to take hope in the Father and dance. This song gets better as it goes on, and the music work is remarkable. Brian Kendrick tears it up on the drums.
Renner’s voice is versatile and she captures different styles of music gracefully. “Safe with You” is a nice, contemporary pop number that morphs into a rousing Gospel-styled vamp.
“Rain Down” is a worship song that has that slow jam feel that you would hear from groups like Earth Wind and Fire, Atlantic Starr or The Gap Band. “Fallen” is a beautiful love song to God, a piece penned by Doug & Laurie Engquist and Quentin Lozano that is one of the best songs on the CD. Vocals, band and Renner blend very well together.
Renner even does a great job on the remake of “You’re All I Need to Get By” By Ashford and Simpson. This one is a little more churchy than the original (!), but rightfully so, since she is talking about Jesus. Don’t be alarmed; she still follows the same format of the original.
“Ever Present” is the standout worship song on this album filled with gems. Renner shares songwriting duties with Nate Sabin and Chrys Altamirano, with lyrics telling of God being there throughout life’s storms, and of His sustaining love. John Catchings adds his cello and string arrangements to this one.
Also check the Margaret Becker remake, “Jesus Draw Me Nearer” and also “Live a Little”, from the pen of Lori Sabin.
Elements of the Journey is a wonderful trip, with instrumentation, vocal arrangements, vocals, and songwriting being top notch and innovative.
Don’t sleep on Sara Renner.
Sara Renner’s bio says she’s “rooted in the legendary Minneapolis sound.” It’s not so much a reference to Prince’s Paisley Park Studios as recognition of the growing gospel music scene and the respected Christian songwriters from the Twin Cities—like Sara Groves, Joe Rogness, and Jason Gay, and producer Nate Sabin, who has worked with all three. It’s fitting, then, that Sabin would match his skills to yet another local talent, though Renner has already made a name for herself there as a worship leader, a member of vocal trio Three Soul Cry, and most recently as a solo artist. Armed with a soulful and strong voice, her greatest strength is her eclecticism. Remember Basia, or Lisa Stansfield? Renner combines that kind of jazz-pop sensibility (“Simple Things”) with the gospel-pop side of CeCe Winans and Natalie Grant (“Elements of Life”). And she does so convincingly, straddling comfortably between styles without giving the listener sonic whiplash. Also, much like Bryan Duncan, she has a passion for live musicianship over programmed backing tracks, evidenced by her impressive supporting band, The Elements. Check out the killer funk on “Dancin’ in the Light!” This is a soulfully superior Christian pop disc elevated by all the talent involved.