Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2019

“Praise Belongs to You” Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “Praise Belongs to You,” co-written by Grammy Award-nominated gospel songwriter Jason Clayborn, author of such hits as Hezekiah Walker’s “Better” and Ricky Dillard’s “I Survived It,” is Clayborn’s debut single as an artist for Tyscot Records. Assisted by his small choir, the Atmosphere Changers, Clayborn offers a radio-ready praise anthem aided by full-bodied production, dramatic key changes, and lead vocal assists from Isaiah Freeman and Matt Austin. The Atmosphere Changers incrementally build the song’s tension with passionate and full-throated harmonies until the only place ...

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“After All These Years” – Freddi Rene

“After All These Years” Freddi Rene From the CD Guide Me www.freddirene.com By Bob Marovich On its surface, “After All These Years,” written by Carl Phillips, Gabriel Young, and producer Gregory G. Pearson, sounds like a conventional love song. But in the song’s first few seconds, Freddi Rene asserts that the source of her love is the Lord. The breezy contemporary single contains hints of Freddi’s hometown of Detroit in its Whitfield-esque jazz chord progressions and complex melody. In fact, if you slowed it down, “After All These Years” sounds like something the Clark Sisters would sing. Freddi Rene has ...

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“Something About that Name” – True Believers

“Something About that Name” True Believers From the 4 Winds CD Back to the Roots (release date: February 1, 2019) www.malaco.com The True Believers gospel quartet marvels at the wonderful name of Jesus and all the name represents on their new single, “Something About that Name.” “Something” lopes along with a gospel-bluesy strut evocative of the Caravans’ “Mary Don’t You Weep,” as periodic explosions of percussion put exclamation points on the group’s declamations. Just as Inez Andrews looked for Jesus, the True Believers’ lead vocalist Castro Coleman calls for Jesus. By the end, the entire ensemble is in joyous swing, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 8, 2019

“Amazing Grace” Rachel Hawkes Independent (release date: May 1, 2019) We know the hymn, but English singer Rachel Hawkes makes it her own with a new verse, harmonica-tight harmonies, and an easy, delightful delivery. The contrast between the thumping percussion and Hawkes’ honey-smooth voice sells the song. Classically trained—she played cello for two orchestras—Rachel Hawkes has been singing and writing for more ten years. Her cello solo on Saint-Saens’ “Le Cygne” is just as disarming as her work on “Amazing Grace.” With more than six albums to her credit, she may just be one of the best singers you’ve never ...

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“The Greater the Trials, the Greater the Blessings” – Mary Pugh & the Pugh Singers

“The Greater the Trials, the Greater the Blessings” Mary Pugh & the Pugh Singers Overboard Records (2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/marypughthepughsingers By Bob Marovich On “The Greater the Trials, the Greater the Blessings,” Grove Hill, Alabama, female quartet Mary Pugh & the Pugh Singers offers an encouraging paradox that sounds as if it came straight from the Sunday morning pulpit. “Looking back over the years / I’ve been through some storms,” Mary sings, adding that she knew God would “show up in the rain.” To reinforce its James 1:12 message about the reward of being tried by fire and enduring, the group quotes ...

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Nashville Life Music – The Taylor House Sessions (EP)

Nashville Life Music The Taylor House Sessions (EP) Integrity Music (release date: May 24, 2019) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich From the loping tempo and bass-heavy opening of the single “My God,” and the playful use of auto-tune by Byron Chambers (aka Mr. Talkbox) as a medium for scatting and raising lyric lines, you know that Nashville Life Music has soul. The overall feeling of the group’s Taylor House Sessions EP, recorded at the Taylor House Studio in East Nashville, Tennessee, and especially given the cheering and applause between selections, is of a relaxed communal singalong powered by a throbbing rhythm ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 2, 2019

“Hold Out” Tim Rogers and the Fellas feat. Calvin Richardson SAG Music Group (release date: April 26, 2019) By Bob Marovich As they make plain on their new single, “Hold Out,” Tim Rogers and the Fellows work hard to keep the traditional quartet vibe alive. The single is forged in the crucible of wooden-church worship with enough contemporary accouterments to appeal to today’s radio listeners. Indeed, Rogers expects the song to hit the airwaves because he calls out to “those of you in radio land and are listening to my voice” to turn the volume up. Gospel singer turned R&B ...

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Absolution – Breakthrough

Absolution Breakthrough Independent (release date: March 14, 2019) By Bob Marovich On the album Breakthrough, Absolution adopts an ‘80s R&B vocal group style mixed with elements of smooth jazz to deliver religious and inspirational songs inspired by personal experience. The mixed-voice group Absolution was organized in North Augusta, South Carolina, in 2014 by singer-songwriter Wayne Mims and lead guitarist John Henry Walker. The members’ ages run from teenager to senior, so it seems as if they found a happy medium in laying down ’80s-vintage smooth R&B as their musical foundation. While the members of Absolution don’t go into great detail ...

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The Southern Sons of Memphis – “Live” At Home in Memphis

The Southern Sons of Memphis “Live” At Home in Memphis SOME Records (2016) www.sonsofmemphismusic.com By Bob Marovich Although released in 2016, the Southern Sons of Memphis’s “Live” At Home in Memphis is, like most gospel quartet recordings without undue amounts of synthesizer, evergreen. Bob Holloway, the Southern Sons’ longstanding member, is lead vocalist on almost all of the tracks on this album, recorded at Boston Baptist Church in Memphis. His vocal delivery alternates between flatfooted crooning, pleading, shouting and, when the spirit catches him, a high-pitched shriek that emerges from his shout. Like a minister at the pulpit, Holloway interpolates ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 24, 2019

“One Minute” Coleen (release date: February 5, 2019) By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Coleen’s “One Minute” is not only the first song she wrote, it is autobiographical. At a time when everything was going wrong in her life, when she couldn’t hold on for another minute, Coleen cried out to the Lord and was subsequently able to endure. That’s the message of the song, a call to all women who, like her, have suffered emotional and physical abuse: “If He did it for me, He can do it for you.” Its retro acoustic guitar sound, easy rhythm, and folksy harmonies mask ...

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