The Best Is Yet to Come

by: Martha Munizzi

For an independent effort, the logistics of Martha Munizzi's second and breakout album, The Best Is Yet to Come, were too good to be true. For starters, it was recorded live at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, one of America's largest megachurches and the home base of praise music behemoths Israel Houghton, Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff, and Marcos Witt. Houghton himself, and longtime collaborator Aaron Lindsey stepped up to produce, which means the entire Israel & New Breed gang was on hand to back up Munizzi -- a timely choice, given the praise aggregate's rising star in gospel/praise music at the time. The result is one lively congregational feast, one where rhythm and praise are one and the same. Munizzi is in command from the get-go, interspersing her own unrehearsed ad libs in between the choir's leads. The sound is rough around the edges, which is more a byproduct of the disc's indie spirit than the actual quality of the songs -- easily some of Munizzi's most corporate thus far. She relies a great deal on Houghton and Lindsey for songwriting assists, but the combination of their forces only strengthens the tunes, particularly the infectious "Glorious" and the reverential "God Is Here," two songs that, in due time, also made their mark in multi-ethnic congregations across the country. The former is pure, can't-sit-still Latin/gospel fire, while the latter is no-holds-barred adoration. Each is a testament to Munizzi's breadth as a singer, as well as her innate gift to invite the saints to lift up their voices. From top to bottom, The Best Is Yet to Come is not necessarily the smoothest invitation -- things get a little chaotic and over-the-top as the concert progresses -- but it does enough things right to establish Munizzi as a new power player in praise & worship music. ~ Andree Farias

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