Reviews

Royce Lovett – Love & Other Dreams

Royce Lovett Love & Other Dreams Motown Gospel (release date: July 14, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Royce Lovett is one of the most distinctive voices on the Motown Gospel roster. Not surprisingly, his new album, Love & Other Dreams, is as artistically unpredictable as its creator. The guitar-playing Tallahassee, Florida, singer-songwriter splashes a palette of neo-soul on coded messages about survival in modern society. The album feels like a somnambulant journey of a soul gasping, as if drowning, for the oxygen of freedom. Where can lung-expanding oxygen be found?  Lovett answers on the album’s hypnotic current single, “Up for Love:” it’s in the clouds, where there are ...

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Devin Williams – We Are Forever Yours (EP)

Devin Williams We Are Forever Yours (EP) Independent: (release date: August 4, 2017) www.devinw.com By Bob Marovich The power of love, both given and received, is at the center of We Are Forever Yours, the latest release by worship leader and six-time Billboard Top 30-charting Christian artist Devin Williams. Nowhere is this negotiation more explicit than on the current single, “Hear Our Hearts Sing.” Interceding on behalf of an inferred congregation on this vibrant song of corporate worship, Williams offers God the congregation’s (and his) collective hearts. But this is not a one-way proposition; in return, God will bestow peace, ...

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Hi-Lite Real: Moral Victories

Hi-Lite Real Moral Victories Hi-Lite Life Music (2016) http://hilitereal.com       By Bob Marovich Moral Victories, the latest CD by Atlanta-based Christian Hip Hop artist Hi-Lite Real (born Dwayne Dickey), is as aspirational as it is inspirational. Employing sports analogies for some of his selections, Hi-Lite Real pumps up his motivation while evangelizing to those caught between the street life and the blessed life. “Keep that Xbox,” he spits on “Number 1 Contender,” because saving souls is no game. He’s got his “eyes on the prize” and will work, even through “a torn ACL,” if need be. During “Jungle,” ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 14, 2017

“Well Done” Ernest J. Lee feat. Donnie Tuck From Anthems from the Vault Vol. 1 www.ernestjleemusic.org By Bob Marovich Ernest J. Lee’s “Well Done” drops a fetching quartet backbeat and a drive tempo behind the two words every Christian hopes to hear upon entering the Pearly Gates: well done. The husky-voiced Donnie Tuck and a group of female background vocalists more than assist the Detroiter on this joyous old-school-meets-new-school evocation of the happy hereafter for the saved, sanctified, and Holy Ghost filled. It’s all about joy and shouting victory because there’s no night there. “Now put your hands together one ...

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“Where Do We Go” – Paula & Angie

“Where Do We Go” Paula & Angie From the G2 Music Group CD Where Do We Go (release date: August 4, 2017) www.paulaandangiemusic.com By Bob Marovich On the title track of their new album, Where Do We Go, mother-daughter gospel duo Paula & Angie offer sound advice on how Christians can make a difference in today’s turbulent world. Opening with bluesy gospel piano and organ, the song drops into a comfortable mid-tempo groove. The duo asks the body ecclesiae to not get caught up in “rules and doctrines” but instead adopt Christ-like action to “do what’s best for all God’s children, not just me.” Like ...

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Natasha Owens – We Will Rise

Natasha Owens We Will Rise Maharlow Records (release date: July 7, 2017) http://natashaowensmusic.com By Bob Marovich Sometimes new beginnings flower from the most terrible tragedies. That was the case for Natasha Owens. Seven years ago, her father was cleaning a gun when it misfired, killing him at age 58. In the midst of her grieving, Owens was invited to serve as her church’s worship minister. She wrote songs for her church to sing. Through music ministry, she found that the more she poured into the congregation, the more she got back.  A trip to the recording studio to memorialize her songs produced ...

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Mag Elliott – “If It Wasn’t For Your Love”

“If It Wasn’t For Your Love” Mag Elliott M.E. Productions (2017) www.magelliott.com By Bob Marovich When she was eighteen, Mag Elliott impressed listeners with her debut gospel single, “Worthy.” Suddenly, she was receiving opportunities from all directions to sing on gospel programs. In the process, Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones heard her and brought her into his New Life vocal group. This past June, Elliott was named New Artist of the Year at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards. This honor comes on the heels of her new single, “If It Wasn’t For Your Love.” She sings that God’s grace restored trust ...

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Derrick “Doc” Pearson – I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage

Derrick “Doc” Pearson I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage I AM Music Company (release date: April 7, 2017) www.iammusiccompany.com By Bob Marovich Love songs have become quite popular in gospel music. Perchance inspired by Kim Burrell’s 2011 The Love Album, or Fred Hammond’s 2012 2-CD release, God, Love, and Romance, several artists have written and recorded songs about Bible-based love. Some even make for good wedding ceremony material. One of the most popular essays on the Journal of Gospel Music is a list of gospel songs fit for a marriage ceremony. I Still Do, Derrick “Doc” Pearson’s new collection of songs about marriage, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 1, 2017

“It Pays to Serve Jesus” Lady LaVarnga Hubbard Utopia Music Group (2017) Available from digital media stores By Bob Marovich No matter how many vocalists travel down the P&W path, you can count on Lady LaVarnga Hubbard, the Duchess of Gospel, to keep delivering church rousers the old-school way. “It Pays to Serve Jesus” is the latest single (and the third) pulled from Hubbard’s album, Better Is Coming, released on Bishop Larry Trotter’s Utopia Music Group. True to form, the Duchess glides along the backbeat, inviting listeners to sidestep the static and remember that following Christ is the route to solving ...

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“Simply Because” – Dana Fields feat. Adam Brock

“Simply Because” Dana Fields feat. Adam Brock From the album A Personal Experience (2016) www.danafields.com By Bob Marovich Songstress Dana Fields’ silky smooth praise song “Simply Because” gets a double shot of passion courtesy of the soulful vocalizing of her duet partner, American Idol contestant Adam Brock. The two voices fit together like two puzzle pieces, a twenty-first century iteration of the sweet-and-spicy combo of Syreeta Wright and Billy Preston. Fields and Brock move perceptibly from gentle to big finish to render the uncomplicated lyrics and melody that surfaced in Fields’s spirit as she was going about her daily routine. This is how skilled vocalists ...

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