Sounds like … jazz-infused inspirational songs that's reminiscent of Sade, Yolanda Adams and CeCe Winans.

At a glance … Meredith Augustin's clear vocals and soulful, ambient arrangements make Deep River worthy of a listen.

Much like Kristin Chenoweth's foray into inspirational territory with 2005's As I Am, Meredith Augustin has a booming, almost theatrical quality about her music. I wouldn't have been surprised if someone told me she currently had a career on Broadway, especially after hearing her belt out an old spiritual like "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" with such haunting conviction.

As it turns out, Augustin has spent her life in ministry, rather than the bright lights of the stage. She currently pulls double duty as the Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Joseph's Parish in East Rutherfood, New Jersey and the Coordinator of Sunday Evening Liturgies at the Church of St. Francis in New York City. Somehow, in the midst of ministering for two different congregations, she's also managed to find time to record ten of her arrangements, vividly reflecting her rich spiritual journey.

While CHR classics like "In Christ Alone" and "Mary, Did You Know" are a little more straightforward in presentation, Augustin's smoky and memorable vocals still give these familiar renditions a newly revitalized flair. The truly remarkable moments that elevate this disc to four-star status are the jazzy gospel-tinged tracks, such as the worshipful "Give Me Jesus" and the soulful closer "Deep River," which has a catchy chorus that'll stick in your head for days to come.

As if Augustin's voice wasn't already a remarkable draw, her accompanying band helps elevate Deep River that much more. Her liner notes say that she collaborated with some of the finest performing and studio musicians in New York, and that's not just blowing smoke in hopes of great press. The jazzy instrumentation stays snugly in the background for one track, only to amp up in the next—the bass lines in "God Is—Dios Es" and "Is This Goodness God?" are particularly impressive. It all adds up to one fine project for anyone desiring a soft, inspirational recording with a flair for performance.

For more information on Augustin, check out

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