Sounds like … the smooth R&B of Ledisi with the vocal pop soul of Whitney Houston and straight up gospel messages of Mary, Mary or J. Moss

At a glance … the legendary duo's reunion is a stellar comeback CD

When BeBe and CeCe Winans sing "It's been a long time since we've been together" in the opening line of their new album, Still, the statement is no revelation. After releasing the Gold-selling Relationships in 1994, the dynamite duo made a temporary split—or so they thought—to fulfill their record label obligations to record solo projects. But after achieving monumental successes with CeCe's Alone in His Presence and BeBe's self-titled debut, the cycles of promotion and demand set the siblings' individual careers in perpetual motion.

And the era of CCM/R&B/BeBe/CeCe that had been filling radio airwaves for nearly a decade came to a halt. And the void was great.

But good things come to those who wait. Reconvening for their first full-record pairing in 15 years, the platinum pair picks up right where they left off, issuing 12 genre-defying cuts in perfect brother/sister harmony.

Rather than re-entering the market with a bold statement of change, Still uses the group's old-school recording model, lining up a host of producers under the oversight of BeBe's musical point, to create classic BeBe & CeCe. Which is a good thing. An unknowing listener could hear the record's first single and never know the duo had been on hiatus.

The title track demonstrates the siblings' seamless answer/response mechanism to list their biggest hits in a clever musical re-introduction. "Close to You" is already making large crossover strides, having charted No 1 in the R&B market.

"Grace," produced by the group's old hitmaker, Keith Thomas (Amy Grant, Vanessa Williams), is an album highlight, applying a haunting octave piano motif to begin an epic six-minute journey that climaxes with CeCe's beautiful soprano echoing BeBe's convicted growl: "I can't live without your grace / Where would I be without your grace? / I love you"—words made most poignant by BeBe's recent troubles.

Keeping it all in the family, nephew Mario Winans produced "Let It Be," a united-we-stand mantra-chorus featuring the gospel-heavy voices of Mary Mary, while "Things" showcases brother Marvin Winans' husky soul and "Change My World" was penned by CeCe's oldest son, Alvin Love III.

The calypso-like backbeat and kitschy rhymes of "He Can Handle It" are a bit cheesy, and the fast-paced drum programs of "Reason to Dance" really, really remind me of their twenty-year old hit, "Celebrate New Life," but BeBe & CeCe albums have never conformed to peer pressure. In fact, their goody bag of rhythm and soul is probably what makes them so appealing to such a broad base of listeners.

Still may not reach new heights, but its timelessness features everything we love about these legends. Christian music fans have waited long for this comeback, and Still should satisfy their craving.

Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
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Release Date
October 1, 2009
Malaco Records
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