Review: LeAnn Rimes’ ‘god’s work’ is a Complex Collection of Spiritually-Fueled Hits

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

LeAnn Rimes
god’s work
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

To understand god’s work, you must first understand LeAnn Rimes. Not the LeAnn Rimes who, at 13, rose to country music fame with the 1996 honky tonk swinging “Blue.” Not the LeAnn Rimes who appeared atop a Coyote Ugly bar to sing the 2001 bop “Can’t Fight The Moonlight.” But the LeAnn Rimes now, the person it took her 20-plus years to become.

Her 19th studio album, god’s work, was released today (Sept. 16) and gives listeners the opportunity to meet that LeAnn Rimes. A project nearly three years in the making, the album is a complex collection of 12 songs that soundtrack a journey through grief and rage, through reflection and awakening. Rimes’ powerhouse vocals shine throughout as tracks dance between stripped-back new age arrangements and thunderous gospel-tinged theatrics.

Dealing with dueling themes—light and dark, creation and destruction, hope and despair—god’s work is a truly personal record with depth in its message-driven lyrics. It provokes questions among listeners, even if that question is “Did LeAnn Rimes just say ‘fuck?’,” and it urges them to look inward. At times, the album’s existentialism teeters on after-school-special hokiness, but god’s work has a lot to say.

The album opens strong with “spaceship.” Written in the early days of lockdown, the song asks for an escape from the human experience. Lyrics full of loneliness, anger, and confusion, the singer asks Hey God, why don’t you take me home? against a backdrop of gorgeous piano riffs and building strings for a Bowie-esque call to the cosmos.

“the only” follows. Lifted by the collaborative magic of Ziggy Marley, Ben Harper, and Ledisi, the song vibrates with an infectious energy that can only come from community and connection. The only way we’re gonna get there / Is if we hold each other’s hand, Rimes vocalizes amid a flurry of reggae rhythms and delicate strums.

A handful of thoughtful tracks trail behind. Theatrical, Disney-esque trills and building production punctuate “awakening” while it’s Rimes’ impressive range that dominates “how much a heart can hold.” The album then explodes into the drum-heavy “throw my arms around the world.” “the wild” follows, featuring Sheila E and Mickey Guyton. Pulsating and powerful with full-bodied, tribalistic drumming, the song builds into a furiously feminine anthem.

god’s work nears the end with the banjo-fueled, rapturous (literally) “something better’s coming” which levels off into “imagined with love” and “there will be a better day.” The album comes to a close with a rollicking duet. “I Do” features Aloe Blacc in a dizzying waltz of bold, captivating voices and bright, hammering keys.

Overall, the album is involved. From the opening track, god’s work begins a journey of reflection and introspection, albeit slow, at times, but meditative all the same. For those willing to take that journey, god’s work will not disappoint.

Photo: Norman Seeff / Sunshine Sachs

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