I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (The Valley) – Single
© 2017 Sprig Music / Old Bear Records / Ryan Clair
Review by Jason Ramsey
There is certain beauty in old hymns. There is a reverence to them — a starkness that makes you sit up straight, close your eyes, and sway. “I Want Jesus To Walk With Me” started appearing in hymnals in the late 1950s, ripe from its African American spiritual roots in the deep south. It’s a pleading song, a soul song, a yearning for the spirit of Jesus to wash over us in trying times. To strip these words of their soul would be blasphemous. To strip the melody of rhythm would be cruel.
Ryan Clair, worship leader at The Journey North Church in Baxter, Minnesota, drove 1,700 miles with his wife and five children to rural Batavia, New York to record this track with the fine folks at Old Bear Studios. This is his debut single, but you would never guess that. “I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (The Valley)” is a shining, stunning example of the power of transformation. Of imagination. Of believing in preservation, yet pioneering new paths. From the click of the old video projector in the first seconds to the subdued chants in the last, Ryan Clair commands attention and gets it. This is an incredible vocal performance filled with dissonant croons and the perfect balance of southern Gospel and Memphis blues. The air of sadness is palpable. The yearning is stripped raw and heartfelt.
“I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (The Valley)” was produced by Chris Hoisington of Brothers McClurg, and it is a fully realized vision of modernizing tradition. Guitars awash in reverb clack between beats. Basslines slink and slither around acoustic rhythms. Drums gallop at a dirge-like pace. And Ryan Clair effortlessly digs deep in his soul to bring the song home. This is a song that needs a home, and it has found a permanent one with this rendition.
Ryan Clair is set to release a long player this coming January. If this track represents the feel of the album, then you should ache in anticipation for it. We don’t give out ratings because we like to focus on words instead, but this is a five-star track.
- I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (The Valley) Ryan Clair 4:14
HARMONIZED SOUNDS – BEHIND THE TRACK
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