Sunday, September 11, 2011

CD Review: Ginny Owens - Get In, I'm Driving

Get In, I'm Driving by Ginny Owens
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Label:  Soul Stride / EMI
Format:  Compact Disc, 42 min, 6 sec

1. Get In, I'm Driving
2. Mystery of Grace
3. Before You Fly
4. Rain
5. Joined at the Heart        
6. Better Off
7. Lay It Down
8. Higher Ground
9. Daughter of Destiny
10. Better That Way
11. The Song

My Review:

After some time out of the spotlight, Ginny Owens returns with her first studio release since 2005 entitled Get In, I'm Driving.  The tongue-in-cheek album title is also the lead-off track for the record.  It's the perfect opener for the album -- both an assured statement from an artist joyfully "march[ing] to the beat of [her] own drum" as well as a reminder that life is a God-led adventure.  It's clear from the start that Owens is driving the project with confidence and heart.  And what a treat this record is to listen to! It's a soulful mixture of sounds and styles, including gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz.  The tones are at times dark and minor-key, but there is a palpable energy -- a swagger -- and a consistent undercurrent of hope, resilience, and strength.

Though it's hard to pick a favorite, the first single "Before You Fly" is one of the standout tracks.  Though Owens began writing the song soon after Hurricane Katrina, five years passed before she finished it.  During that time, Ginny experienced her own personal "hurricanes" as she cared for her mother who battled cancer and endured relationship issues and heartbreak.  Owens came out of the darkness on the other side, though, with hope.  And the song serves as a beautiful source of encouragement in a tumultuous world.  Ginny sings:
When you wash up on the shore,
Wondering what this journey’s for-
Spread your wings in the sun,
Don’t give up, there’s more to come.
You will find when you try,
You always fall before you fly. 
On my first listen, "Before You Fly" instantly reminded me of Stevie Wonder's hopeful pop work.  So it was not a surprise to find Ginny covering the Wonder-penned "Higher Ground".  Though not her original composition, Ginny makes the song her own, creating her own arrangement, with a slower tempo and dark, shadowy musical tones, including stringed accompaniment -- a fitting framework for what she considers a "song [that] paints a picture of a broken world where each of us has a chance to be redeemed again and again -- if we’ll only ask." The end result is both stunning and stirring. 

"Higher Ground" is preceded by another standout song that addresses struggle and burden, "Lay It Down."   
Lay it down,
Everyone’s got a burden;
That’s just part of livin,
So take the one you’re given
And lay it down;

Don’t let it define you,
You’re not strong enough to
Carry that around-
Go ahead and lay it down

"Rain" and "Better Off" are two more of my favorites.  Both songs are born out of pain and hardship, but remain optimistically grounded in faithful trust and hope.  In "Better Off" Owens has emerged from heartache a survivor.  In fact, much of the album is about dealing with change and transition. In an interview with Lauren Kleist of, Owens says:
"the whole CD... is very much about me going through some changes. It’s about leaving something that was more comfortable and safe and peaceful feeling -- something that was maybe more predictable and more of what people wanted me to be, and then sort of diving out in faith into being who I wanted to be, especially as an artist. So, there are a lot of songs about life, about transition, and about moving from one thing to the other."         
Though Get In, I'm Driving may at first glance look like a complete stylistic departure from her earlier work, Owens experimented with elements of jazz and R&B on prior projects. Here she is following her heart and exploring these sounds with aplomb.  Though by no means a newcomer, and indisputably talented from the get-go, on this newest project -- her best work yet -- Ginny Owens has blossomed.  On previous records, she was exploring and questioning, not her faith, but her musical identity and her path.  As an artist, she was finding her way.  With Get In, I'm Driving, not only has Ginny emerged stronger and more confident than ever before, she knows exactly who she is and where she's going.  And though she says she "drove" this project, working two years to patiently make it sound just the way she wanted, Ginny would remind you that there were bigger hands behind the wheel.  Her life and her music are part of the larger journey that God is leading her on.  And it's beautiful to listen to Ginny "following the song" as she sings in the final track ,"The Song""No matter where it leads me, it never leads me wrong.  How empty would my soul be, if I never heard the song."  This gorgeous song compares God's love and guidance to a song.  A song that Owens herself is determined to follow wherever it leads, and one she encourages her audience to listen to as well.  As the track ends, she implores:  "keep following the song." 

Highly recommended! I love this CD! It offers a lot of encouragement and hope, and does so in both energetic, uptempo songs as well as quieter songs.  I think everyone will be able to find something to like on this record and come away with something positive from listening to it.  It should be especially comforting to teen girls and young women, people going through hardship, or just folks with questions about where they fit in or what direction they should take.

Meet Ginny:

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Owens was discovering melodies on the piano almost before she could complete a sentence.  Songs began to emerge from her fingers as the vision began to leave her eyes, and by the age of three a degenerative eye condition left Owens completely blind.  Despite her physical challenge, she pursued a career in music.  Songs provide a window into a world Owens can't see and an outlet for her to express her thoughts and dreams.

Ginny Owens is a three-time Dove Award winner, including the Gospel Music Association's 2000 New Artist of the Year awardOwens' music has impacted mainstream audiences at Lilith Fair, the Sundance Film Festival, and the White House.  For her efforts to help rebuild New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Owens was featured on NBC's "Today" and CNN.

In 2005 Owens launched The Fingerprint Initiative, a hands-on, non-profit organization designed to "bring hope to the world, one project and one touch at a time."  The organization has partnered with and raised money for groups such as Compassion International, International Justice Mission, and Habitat for Humanity. 

Ginny Owens on the Web: 

*Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received the above CD for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. It's really good! Good enough that even though I got a promo copy, I'll be buying my own CD. I want the whole package: artwork, lyrics, album credits, etc. And I like to support artists.