Dan MacIntosh's Review of Fleet of Dreams Subscribe To My News (RSS)(Click this icon to Subscribe)

The first surprise when listening to Rae Marie's Fleet of Dreams album is that she's white. That's a compliment because Rae Marie sounds like a black gospel singer, through-and-through. This album is a collection of simple (yet by no means simplistic) praise and worship songs. Saying it is simple is also being complimentary because some of the best Christian music is uncomplicated. At its best, it is the honest soul cry from one human to their Maker. This is what makes Fleet of Dreams so special and also convincingly sincere.

Knowing Rae Marie is the daughter of organist/composer Ray Ludwig, who accompanied singer/songwriter Doris Akers, makes it easy to see the influence Akers had upon Rae Marie's straightforward songwriting approach. Akers wrote the popular church song "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," and so many of these songs also have that song's same pure spiritual power.

Nevertheless, there are more than just church praise choruses contained on this 10-song effort. Opener, "Oh, The Love of Jesus" is a vocal-only track with some truly lovely harmonies. In contrast, "Spirit of the Lord" is driven by funky, bluesy-soulful electric guitar work and a driving groove. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," Rae Marie announces during its chorus. It has the sort of rock-gospel feel that may remind you of Bob Dylan's 'born again' artistic phase. It compares admirably to the music Dylan made on Shot of Love, Saved and particularly Slow Train Coming since esteemed guitarist Mark (Dire Straits) Knoplfer produced the latter offering. The album's title track also contains upfront guitar work. Instead of a blues-soul groove, however, this one rocks back and forth like a country flavored Southern gospel tune.

A song like "Anoint Your Servant" is more representative of Rae Marie's stylistic sweet spot. Built upon a gently swaying groove, Rae Marie sings its words with a deliberately measured tone. Its lyric is a prayer, of sorts, asking God to bless her ministry. It opens with a lengthy musical intro section. Rae Marie sings its chorus with extended, passionate notes as she nearly begs God to make her more like Him.

Some of these songs, particularly "Having Done All to Stand/You Alone
are Worthy" sound like they were taken directly from church. It reminds me of those times when a brother or sister would just start sharing from the heart in church. It, like most of these recordings, is primarily keyboard based. However, it also includes prominent electric guitar work. Its lyric talks about how singing worship music is an easy and natural sacrifice. For those with Rae Marie's musical talent, singing worship sounds as natural as breathing. Thankfully, Rae Marie nicely utilizes her inborn talents in lovely and creative ways.

It's tempting, as a praise and worship singer/writer, to become a little insular. However, God doesn't want the gospel to be restrained and contained within the church; Christians need to go outside the church walls and share God's message. "Put on the Full Armor" is a song for witnessing preparedness. Its title reminds believers of the weapons of spiritual warfare, called 'the armor of God' in the Bible. This is probably a good song to sing at the end of a church service, just as parishioners are about to exit the comfy comfort zone of the church pew and go out into the cold, hard world.
The key to this album's overall success is Rae Marie's warm vocal tone. She makes everything she sings sound sweet and encouraging. She doesn't sing at the listener; she sings to them. It's not uncommon to hear or see a vocalist and come away respecting the talent, yet relatively untouched emotionally. In contrast, Rae Marie sings with tangible feeling, which is impossible to ignore and oh so easy to appreciate.

Artist: Rae Marie
Album: Fleet of Dreams
Review By: Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

posted by Rae Marie on 05/18/2014