"Greatest Hymns Vol. 3"
Prime Cuts: Put Your Hand in the Hand, Stand by Me, For the Beauty of the Earth/This is My Father's World
Overall Grade: 4.75/5
"At This Table: A Christmas Album"
Prime Cuts: At This Table, The Night that Love Was Born, Amen/Go Tell It to the Mountains
Overall Grade: 5/5
In 25 years, the songs of Selah have received more than half a billion streams, they have won 11 GMA Dove Awards, and they have sold over 4 million records. Unlike many trios that have come and have gone without leaving much of an impact, Selah has gifted CCM with signature tunes such as "Press On," "Wonderful Merciful Savior," "You Raise Me Up," "Hope of the Broken World," and many others. So, what sets the trio apart? First, they are not afraid of working on the old hymns. While many lesser artists frown on this traditional canon of songs, Selah takes the time to know them, sing them, and love them, so that they become the group's own songs. Second, with Todd Hall being raised in Africa, Allan Hall's love of country music, and Amy Hall's mastery over contemporary worship songs, the trio bring these individual traits into their albums. Thereby, the songs of Selah are never boring.
To celebrate 25 years in ministry, Selah releases two albums. "Greatest Hymns Vol. 3" harkens back to their 1999 debut record which also comprises of mostly hymns. Opening medley "For the Beauty of the Earth/This is My Father's World" is nothing less than stunning. The gorgeous string arrangements marrying the vocals of both Amy and Allan makes the perfect heavenly match. Todd adds his bluesy vocals on 70s soul-Gospel classic "Put Your hand in the Hand." Not ones to be predictable, the trio switch gears with a countrified version of "Oh How I Love Jesus," an early 80s-sounding "Sweet Hour of Prayer," and a minimalistic rendition of "Stand by Me." For those who want some nostalgic CCM, be prepared to sing along with the trio on their "Twila Paris Medley."
Their second release is "At This Table: A Christmas Album." Though hard to belief, this is only Selah's second Christmas offering in their lengthy career. "At This Table: A Christmas Album" is the follow-up to their 2002's "Rose of Bethlehem." Unlike their hymn album, this one has a few originals. Selah certainly knows how to start their albums on the right foot. Album opener and title cut "At This Table" (first recorded by Idina Menzel) is a gorgeous piano ballad that speaks of how Christ shows no partiality in his love for us. Who would have thought African drums would sound so cool on "Joy to the World/Sweet Little Baby Boy"? If you like story songs, then go listen to "The Night that Love Was Born." Going into their southern roots, Selah turns "Amen/Go Tell It to the Mountains" into an old Gospel spiritual.
At the end of the day, these two albums are not about chasing trends or even an attempt to craft a new sound. Rather, the beauty is that Selah have come to live and breathe these (mostly) familiar songs that they sound authentic and affecting. The layers of emotions, the creative arrangements, and the nuances they bring to these hymns make these records sound stellar. And these are also factors that have led to the longevity of Selah as a trio.