Reviews

“I Am More than a Conqueror” – Tonya Lewis Taylor

“I Am More than a Conqueror” Tonya Lewis Taylor EARS Group (release date: April 3, 2019) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich Affirmations created from popular Bible verses—1 John 4:4 and Philippians 4:13, for example—are strung together and given a contemporary swagger on Tonya Lewis Taylor’s new single, “I Am More than a Conqueror.” Directed vocally by TLT, the male and female voices in the backing choir take turns responding to her declamations of overcoming and collectively join in reminders that one “can do all things through Christ.” Though credited to Tonya as a solo, the single is actually a swaying mid-tempo ...

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“Everytime” – Social Club Misfits

“Everytime” Social Club Misfits From the Capitol Christian Music Group EP MOOD (release date: April 12, 2019) www.socialclubmisfits.com By Bob Marovich Produced by Young Sidechain, “Everytime” by Christian hip hop duo Social Club Misfits is an autobiographical rap about their commitment to sharing the Word throughout the nation, regardless of the consequences. They proclaim what amounts to a gospel artist mission statement: “I do it for the people who got nothing left / And if I did it for the money, I would probably quit.” They also call out rappers who sell themselves short – “buyin’ chains with chains around ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 13, 2019

“Hallelujah” E. D. Mondaine’ From the Achaia Records release Hallelujah (release date: February 7, 2019) www.edmondaine.com By Bob Marovich Sure, Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece “Hallelujah” is about a love affair gone sour, but given that it is gilded with lines from Scripture, I’m surprised that more Christian artists haven’t gospelized it over the years. Gospel artist and pastor Apostle E. D. Mondaine’ has just rendered the beautiful ballad, made it the title track of his new album, and altered some of the lyrics to make it more spiritual. He opens the song with the same lovingly delicate reading that most singers ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 6, 2019

“Keep Me” Carrington Alyse Brown Clarkstone Music Group (release date: March 1, 2019) By Bob Marovich With thunderous encouragement from a backing choir, seventeen-year-old Carrington Alyse Brown delivers her debut single, “Keep Me,” with steadily increasing intensity and passion. Produced by Jason Clark, executive director of the Tennessee Mass Choir, “Keep Me” is a traditional-flavored song with a message grounded in God’s constancy. That’s not surprising; she told Xuam Lawson on “Real Gospel with the Xman” that she likes traditional gospel because she is a “churchy girl.” Her sound is evocative of another young singer, and one of her favorite ...

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Pastor Donald Gay – On a Glorious Day

Pastor Donald Gay On a Glorious Day The Sirens Records (release date: March 15, 2019) www.thesirensrecords.com By Bob Marovich Like amber, Pastor Donald Gay’s On a Glorious Day preserves the sounds and stories of Chicago’s traditional gospel music and church community. Pastor Gay has been in gospel music since knee pants (a photo on the back of the CD booklet depicts Donald as a tyke, sitting atop a piano and flanked by his older sisters Evelyn, Geraldine and Mildred). As the Gay Sisters, Donald’s female siblings posted a significant gospel hit in 1951 by modernizing the hymn, “God Will Take ...

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“Blessings on Blessings” – Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy

“Blessings on Blessings” Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy Key of A / Tyscot / FairTrade (release date: May 3, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “Every time I turn around…blessings,” Anthony Brown sings, and he knows whereof he speaks. The group has gone from backing Maurette Brown Clark on her highly-acclaimed album The Dream (2007) to racking up their own chart action, which led to numerous Stellar Award wins, Grammy and Billboard Music Award nominations, and other honors. Inspired by the go-go style popularized in the Washington, DC, area, “Blessings on Blessings” is a bouncing, joyous paean to the sunshine that ...

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“What You Gonna Do” – Ruth Black and the Harmonettes

“What You Gonna Do” Ruth Black and the Harmonettes By Bob Marovich On their new single, “What You Gonna Do,” Ruth Black and the Harmonettes of Alexander City, Alabama, ask sinners to consider whether they will be ready when Jesus comes. They mince no words in calling sinners out, either. Peace breakers, drug addicts, “thief in the night,” backsliders, alcoholics lying on the barroom floor—all are summoned not for shaming but for reclaiming souls for Jesus. “What You Gonna Do” has that relentlessly bouncing southern soul quartet groove that moves seamlessly from verses into a vamp that finds the Harmonettes ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 29, 2019

“Won’t He Do It”Kim RuffSarahschild Records (release date: April 19, 2019) By Bob Marovich A bracing tempo with hard-charging musicians and background vocalists support Stellar Award winner Kim Ruff on her new single, “Won’t He Do It.” Ruff gives this simple song with a simple message an invigorating delivery. Exploding with gratitude over God’s intercession in her life and wanting to share it with the world, she shouts, scoops, and delivers staccato lines with gusto. Though one may be more familiar with Ruff’s smooth singing, such as on the ballad masterpiece “As Good as It Gets” from her 2009 Ready ...

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Janice Gaines – Lead Me

Janice Gaines Lead Me (release date: March 22, 2019) www.janicegaines.com By Bob Marovich Janice Gaines’ Lead Me is a brief but satisfying journey through the hymnbook. It is also a far better showcase for her affecting vocal delivery than Greatest Life Ever, her 2015 album for Motown Gospel. Whereas that album aimed to attract a mass audience by offering generous helpings of bumping bass and electronica, it seemed ill-fitted to Gaines’s more grounded talent. This album, on the other hand, employs the less is more philosophy, meaning it is more authentically rooted in gospel’s one foundation: the church. As if ...

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Elsa Harris – I Thank God

Elsa Harris I Thank God The Sirens (release date: March 15, 2019) www.thesirensrecords.com By Bob Marovich Chicago is the birthplace of gospel music and, in many respects, it’s also the home of the genre’s most ardent preservation efforts. In addition to the forthcoming National Museum of Gospel Music, the vitality of traditional gospel in the Windy City can be heard on veteran gospel artist Elsa Harris’s mostly instrumental CD, I Thank God. Harris’s piano proclivities, forged in the practice room as well as the church, recalls the jauntiness of traditional gospel, a distinctive sound too often obscured in the wake ...

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