Roman & Alaina – Sounds of Prayer

romanandalaina Roman La’Voy and his wife Alaina Wood debut their new Messianic music album, Sounds of Prayer

I’m a bit of a Messianic music aficionado. Over the years I’ve amassed a wide variety of Messianic tunes – from pioneers like Lamb and Israel’s Hope, to modern psalms by Marty Goetz and Steve McConnell, to contemporary worship by Sharon Wilbur – Messianic music has blessed me, lifted me up, encouraged me. I love worshiping to Messianic music, playing these songs on the guitar, singing on shabbat. Music is the lubricant that lets the heart speak freely to God, and I think Messianic music has left a great legacy in that regard.

Needless to say, when I heard Roman La’Voy had put out a new Messianic music album, I was thrilled. Roman and his wife Alaina Wood have worked together to release their first album, entitled Sounds of Prayer.

Roman & Alaina - Sounds of Prayer

 

Some of you may remember Roman from the group Meha Shamayim, which had a number of beautiful songs for Messiah. I’m happy to say, this new album does not disappoint: in my opinion, the quality exceeds Meha Shamayim’s previous work. After listening to this album for the past two weeks, I had to write a review here to spread the word – I think you fine blog readers are going to love it.

One of my favorites from this album is a tune entitled Bless G-d, posted with permission:

Roman & Alaina – Bless G-d:

That song is really indicative of the whole album: acoustic, folksy, intimate, God-honoring, rooted in Jewish expression.

The only thing missing from the above song would be Alaina’s sweet voice, which graces most of the songs on the album.

Here’s a quick run down of each song:

  1. Hashem Open My Lips

    A simple and short song comprised only of the phrase from Psalm 51:

    “Hashem, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
    Light and fanciful with prominent acoustic guitar, it’s a good opening tune – nothing fancy, just a simple praise song to start the praises flowing.

  2. I Believe

    Interesting song that, I think, is based off Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Jewish Faith. In particular, principles #12 and #13:

    I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. How long it takes, I will await His coming every day.

    I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when G-d wills it to happen.
    These form the basis for this song that looks forward to the coming of Messiah.

    I like how this songs pronounces blessing on Yeshua: “blessed be his name, and exalted be his remembrance, forever and forever and ever”.

  3. Oseh Shalom

    A beautiful guitar intro was reminiscent of older Meha Shamayim songs. Here, Roman and Alaina sing the melody of the old familiar Jewish prayer, putting it to a new tune.

  4. Deeper

    Roman took a risk with this song – and it pays off. I think this is the most unorthodox (no pun intended) Messianic song I’ve ever heard: between chorus melodies sung by Alaina, Roman takes the fore and spins some verses in faster tempo, in an almost hip-hop like fashion.

    It’s hard to describe; if you’ve ever heard artists like Matt Kearney where he stops singing and kind of sings to the beat, but not necessarily the tune, that’s what Roman does here. I’d almost describe it as a cross between chanting, singing, and scatting.

    The only instrument accompanying the singing and Kearney-like spinning is an acoustic guitar. I think that is the only weakness in this song; when Roman’s spinning the verses in faster tempo, it’s hard to mentally follow the beat with only an acoustic guitar leading.

    Overall, this is a song of particular interest. I applaud Roman for taking a chance with this one and doing something unorthodox. I hope he continues to do songs like this in the future.

  5. Alice and the Last Hour

    There are very few story-telling songs in Messianic music genre. I think it’s foreign to a lot of religious people, we’re so accustomed to psalms or Scripture or prayer as songs, anything else seems foreign. Undeterred, Roman tells the story of the fictitious Alice, “the righteous secretary for the school who journeyed up the mountains to feed the hungry few”, mixing in what I believe are quotes from 1st John in the New Testament. 

    Upbeat, unmistakably folksy. Roman’s signature harmonica playing shines through between verses. It works out well, and is one of my favorites from the album.

  6. Teach Me To Overcome

    Perhaps the best song on the album. In this catchy folk song, reminiscent of older spiritual hymns and American folk music, the singer invites God to “teach me to overcome” after each problem raised: anger issues, past holding you down, future looking bleak, despair, wandering through life – after each of life’s problems, the singer pleads, “teach me to overcome”.

    The chorus repeats between verses,

    Oh Lord teach me, teach me,
    May it be your divine decree
    That I overcome, oh Lord if you’re willing,
    Teach me to overcome

    Great song, and my personal favorite.

  7. Ma Gadlu

    A sweet and soft rendition of the liturgical prayer sung primarily by Alaina. All Hebrew, followed by soothing melodies sung by both Roman and Alaina.

  8. Mashiach Intervene

    Uplifting song that asks God to raise our souls, “that we may observe all your mitzvot in the zeal and the spirit of our king”.

    Alaina sings most of the song, with Roman chiming in when the two pray, “Oh mashiach, mashiach, intervene! Oh mashiach, mashiach, return!”

    Excellent song. May work in a congregational setting to boot.

  9. Modeh Ani

    Another that reminded me of Meha Shamayim: peaceful, blessing God, with a touch of a jazz sound, this song features Roman and Alaina singing, with Roman ending in a reading from what I believe is a traditional prayer based on Proverbs.

  10. Birth of the King

    This song is where the album gets its title. Telling of the birth of Yeshua, this song is quiet and contemplative, intimate. My only complaint is it is too short, with no real chorus/verse arrangement.

     
  11. Enter Into Shabbat

    Beautiful, peaceful song! One of the best on the album. The song paints the scene of a family on shabbat night, sharing a sabbath meal with friends, chanting prayers and singing shabbat songs.

    Alaina’s sweet voice shines through in this song. These kind of peaceful, blissful songs are tailored-made for her. Sweet and calming as Alaina invites “Enter in, enter into shabbat”.

    It’s accompanied by Roman’s background vocals, acoustic guitar and mandolin, and if I’m not mistaken, Leonardo Bella from Meha Shamayim also makes an appearance through background vocals, which adds a nice finishing touch to this gem.

  12. Bless G-d

    The album ends gracefully with an encouragement from Roman in this acoustic hymn to “Bless G-d”: before opening your eyes in the morning, bless Him for health, for lifting your hands. Bless His name, bless God in prayer, bless Him with every breath, bless Him through binding tefillin, bless Him when praying the Sh’ma.

    The lyrics are beautiful and sung with full meaning and earnestness. It adds layer upon layer of blessing, proclaiming God as the master of all, the one who chose us from every people and tongue, deeming God the trustworthy rock of Israel.

    Hidden in all these blessings is a gem where Roman likens Yeshua to the Torah: In the first few verses, the singer blesses God for “the Torah he gave, the truth, the life, the way”, and at the end of the song, Roman looks ahead to future glory when “God will be one, and so will his name”, and completes the blessing with “Bless G-d for Yeshua he gave, long live the truth, the life, the way, bless G-d”.

    Fittingly, Roman returns us to the beginning when he asks of the Lord, amidst all the blessings, “Open my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise”.

Final Thoughts

Excellent album. Roman and Alaina have put together something magnificent for our King.

It’s unmistakably folksy; while that may not fill every cup of tea, I encourage you fine blog readers to try it: as a Messianic music aficionado, it’s one of the best Messianic music albums I’ve heard in some time. It will bless you, lift you up, encourage you. Personally, I get a sense of peace listening to this album.

If I could nitpick, my only complaint would be that the album was too short. A few of the songs were less than 2 minutes, so it’s a short listen.

Roman & Alaina have set a great example for future Messianic artists: rather than boxing into a preconceived idea of what Messianic music should sound like, Roman and Alaina made their own unique sound according to their background, exalted God in every song, and honored Jewish faith. I think this stands as a great example for Messianic Judaism.

I hope Roman and Alaina will continue making music to bless Messianics for years to come. And I hope you fine blog readers will return the favor and bless and support them by purchasing Sounds of Prayer. (It’s only a measly $10 – that’s less than you spend on coffee and fast food every week. Go buy it now for yourself, or as a Hanukkah gift.)

Thanks to Roman and Alaina for making this album, and to you fine blog readers for reading through this overly-long review. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. ya know, i REALLY like this music, great job roman and alaina!

    ReplyDelete