Cindy Cruse Ratcliff doesn't play coy with God. Her song titles ("Something Greater," "Earth and Sky," "Kingdom Come" and "Heaven Raining Down") are most daring. Blazon with a fire-like audacity, Ratcliff approaches God with a tenacity and boldness that would not let God go until she sees heaven opens and greater things happening. Ratcliff is the senior worship leader of one of America's largest churches around, Lakewood Church. Often sharing the same platform as the church's lead pastor Joel Osteen, Ratcliff has ministered among the tens of thousands that flood through the church's doors. She is also the lead vocalist of the Lakewood Church worship CDs, each of which have sold over a 100,000 copies. "Heaven Coming Down" is Ratcliff's solo worship record that follows her hugely successful "Hurricane," all of which were released under the enterprising DREAM Records imprint.
"Heaven Raining Down" finds Ratcliff teaming up with Press Play's Dave Hanley as producer. Co-writing 9 out of the 10 songs, Ratcliff surrounds herself with some of worship music's best co-writers including Hillsong's Ben Fielding, Planetshakers' Joth Hunt, Matt Bronlewee, Jonathan Thulin and Hanley himself. Percolating with unbridled energy, Ratcliff gets her feet stomping on the dance floor with the title cut "Heaven Raining Down." Though the lyrics never go deeper than hovering around some overwrought clichés, "God Alone" is redeemed by Ratcliff's seasoned delivery which knows how to take the most plebeian notes and turn them into royalty. "With Me" (co-written with Joth Hunt) again shows that Ratcliff deft skills in adapting herself well in a Coldplay-esque like worship ballad.
Ben Fielding who has co-written some of Hillsong's mammoth staples such as "Mighty to Save," "Grace Abounds" and "Anchor" gets a couple of song writing credits here. With the electronic reverb and the ethereal keyboard-driven atmosphere, "Earth and Sky" brilliantly creates an aura of expectation as Ratcliff sings about waiting on God to break out his blessings. The other Fielding entry is "Holy Holy:" this is a slice of worship balladry that starts off slow leading to that typical Hillsong anthemic chorus that will get the entire congregation worshipping. Label mate Jonathan Thulin who has carved a career in bringing out the dance side of worship surprises us by contributing the album's best worship ballad "We Sing Hallelujah." A song that looks beyond the church doors to the ends of the earth to worship Jesus, this is the Great Commission set in song.
Don't let the piano-led "Only You" make you think that this is a soporific exercise for the insomnia. Rather, brimming with seismic emotions, Ratclif has never been more heartfelt as when she sings: "You're my defender gallant & righteous/You are the answer more than enough/You are the love that's relentless I find myself given in." If there's one thing you can't fault about Ratcliff, it is that she never scaffolds her heart from God. When she worships, she's not only transparent, she is earnest, heartfelt and bold. Such combinations are rare these days; so let's cherish her and this album "Heaven Raining Down."