Artist: Donald Lawrence
Album: Best For Last
Reviewer: Hasan James
Label: E-One/Quietwater Entertainment
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Donald Lawrence is a modern day Andre Crouch! He not only writes songs that stand the test of time, he writes songs that become one with your spirit and propel you to use every gift that God has given you. On his latest offering “Best For Last,” Donald chose to mix it up a bit and include hit songs from his previous albums, new material and songs he penned for other artists over a career that spans over two decades.
Let’s begin with the songs from Donald’s previous works. “God” (previously featured on the “Grand Finale” album), featured the angelic vocals of Christian contemporary artist Natalie Grant, as she effortlessly breathed new life into the song. The lyric, “Through my transition, you held my position” never sounded so sweet. On “Say A Prayer” from his 2004 solo project, “I Speak Life” album, the incomparable Faith Evans sings the song even better than she did nine years prior, only this time it is LIVE and direct. Only Donald Lawrence and Company can make a classic song like “The Blessing of Abraham” a classic all over again. This version is considerably slower and forces the listener to let each and every word marinate in their spirit. On “When The Saints Go To Worship,” R&B Divas star, Kelly Price, proves that she is and will always be a church girl at heart, as she belts out the entire song as if it were her own. By the end of the seven- minute track, it was her song indeed!
As for the new material, on this offering Donald proved two things:
1) Songs that are biblically sound still work
2) He pays close attention when the preacher is teaching
The current single at radio, “The Gift” simply teaches that the systems of the world were designed to make you sit down on your gift but whatever gift God gave us was given to you to give back to him. Sounds like a great word to me, but only Donald Lawrence can write it and make the gift look good on you. The title track, “Best For Last” featuring Yolanda Adams and Tri-City Singers is vintage Donald Lawrence and Yolanda’s amazing voice shines bright throughout. “Just Like The Air” is another one of those Wednesday night messages that Donald turned from a message to a song, as Tobbi White- Darks beautifully translates. However, the best song on this 15-track album has to be“ There Remaineth A Rest.” Let’s just say this song was reprised ten times during the actual recording, three times on the album, was inspired from the teachings of Pastor Creflo Dollar and was inspired by the scripture Hebrews 4:9.
Last but not least, Donald has written and produced for an array of artists in both the gospel and mainstream arena and it was a breath of fresh air, when some of the songs that he wrote for other artists, were revitalized by the artists who originally sung them, along with a few surprises. Ted & Sheri have made their mark as solo artists, but together they are a force to be reckoned with and that was evident on the duo’s 2004 hit “Celebrate,” written by Donald Lawrence and also re-recorded for this project in pure Ted & Sheri fashion. After taking a hiatus from platinum selling group SWV, lead singer, Coko, decided to go back to her gospel roots and record her debut gospel project simply titled “Grateful.” She called on Donald to write a song for her, entitled “Mighty God” and on “Best For Last”, Coko delivered a great vocal performance, proving that she still possesses the same vocal prowess she had some two decades ago when we first heard her. It’s a strong possibility had Donald not produced The Clark Sisters final album, “LIVE One Last Time, that they would not be Grammy award winners. Stepping out of producer role, he managed to pen a beautiful song entitled “Instrument” which was creatively interpreted for this album by Donald’s cousin, Rudy Currence. But it was Lalah Hathaway’s smoother than silk, acrobatic vocals that took an under-rated song like “Ultimate Relationship” that Donald penned for Mary J. Blige’s 2003 “Love & Life” album, to a place the “Queen of Hip-Hop & Soul” wouldn’t dream of taking it. The song would be such a perfect fit for a Lalah Hathaway gospel project for sure. Hey, a man can dream can’t he?
Donald Lawrence has done it again with a project that sets him apart from the rest, not to mention that BGV’s provided by “Company” is pure perfection. “Best For Last” is the perfect combination of life defining songs from Donald Lawrence’s songbook. And this is only Volume 1.
TO BE CONTINUED……..