(As published in Rejoice!, a publication of the University of Mississippi)
In the nine years since Andrae Crouch's last album, he and-or his chorale have popped up on everything from albums by Michael Jackson and Madonna to the soundtrack of The Lion King. So he hasn't exactly been lying fallow. But who expected a comeback this strong? Deploying his skills as an ensemble leader, he's put together a team consisting of Disciples (his sister Sandra, Tata Vega), gospel and CCM all-stars (Ricky Grundy, members of Koinonia), and the great El DeBarge that transforms the filler here into solid fare and the mini-masterpieces into not-so-mini masterpieces. Among the latter: the El DeBarge showcase "The Lord Is My Light," the reggae-ish "This Is the Lord's Doing (Marvelous)," and the vision-of-heaven fantasy "We Love It Here," whose masterly calypso rhythms alone mandate a revocation of Crouch's reputation as a musical lightweight. But it's "God Still Loves Me," in which Crouch takes center stage and bares more soul than anyone knew he had, that transforms Mercy into not only his best album but also a powerful expression of worship.