It took gospel superstar Kirk Franklin 15 years in music and ministry to see the release of his first career retrospective, Songs for the Storm, Vol. 1. For someone like Franklin -- whose hits, sales, awards, and media coverage are more befitting an R&B celebrity than a self-proclaimed church boy -- that's certainly a long time. That lapse becomes an eternity if you consider the scattered array of groups, choirs, and offshoots the best-selling gospel entertainer has recorded with over the years, which have made it all the more imperative to have a comprehensive, one-stop source for all things Franklin. This includes his breakout material with the Family and God's Property, short-lived experiments like 1NC, and his own solo days beginning with 2002's The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin. All of these periods are covered in Songs for the Storm -- except his chart-topping Hero, notoriously excluded from the proceedings -- but don't think of it as a greatest-hits package. Zomba instead marketed the album as a "collection of songs that brought us through and carry us over," which, in gospel speak, means the anthology focuses largely on Franklin's biggest anthems and ballads, plus one or two upbeat pacesetters. Nothing wrong with drawing attention to the epics -- in fact, some of Franklin's best moments occur during heartfelt, earnest gospel balladry. But these in no way represent the full scope of Franklin's multi-dimensional persona, which spans dance-pop, hip-hop, urban gospel, classic R&B, and everything in between. That means fans looking for definitive Franklin staples such as "Stomp," "Revolution," "He Reigns," and "Looking for You" will have to go to the source recordings: four different albums in all. As it stands, though, Songs for the Storm is Franklin at his most reverent -- emotive enough for his more traditional audiences, no doubt, but far from the vivacious, tireless ring leader his younger fan base knows him to be.
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AllMusic Review by Andree Farias