Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: September 18, 2018

“Unto the Lamb” Kim Stratton Kingdom Records (release date: May 15, 2018) By Bob Marovich On “Unto the Lamb,” Chicago-based gospel songstress Kim Stratton sings “a brand new song.” Although she’s referencing salvation, in another sense, “Unto the Lamb” is itself a brand new song – her first in six years. After focusing  on growing her catering business, the powerhouse church singer tears into Julie Meyer’s “blood” composition with the dramatic vitality that listeners have come to expect from the powerhouse church singer. The radio edit concludes just as Stratton is getting fired up, so I’d recommend the full length version. Regardless, a new ...

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Bonita Burney Simmons – This Time

Bonita Burney Simmons This Time Bursimslow Music (release date: August 6, 2016) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich Bonita Burney Simmons has been compared to Tramaine Hawkins, but I hear more than a touch of Gladys Knight in her voice on her most recent album, This Time. Especially on the opening track, the mid-tempo “God’s People Arise.” Simmons possesses a creamy voice that only moves into evangelist territory when the spirit hits her, as on “I Must Tell Jesus.” This track finds her singing at her most inspired as she shares how she almost gave up. When she became too tired to fight, ...

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Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir – Thank You

Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir Thank You (EP) Pure Harvest Entertainment, 2014 859-233-4876 By Bob Marovich For decades, the mass choir movement has gathered together men and women of all ages and from a variety of denominations to fellowship in song. Though small in comparison to most mass choirs, the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir fits this definition. Organized in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1990, the choir’s most recent recording is a five-track EP called Thank You. The 2014 release features its leader, gospel music veteran Elder Arlester Washington. Back in the day, Washington sang and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 10, 2018

“You Say” Lauren Daigle From the Centricity Music album Look Up Child (release date: September 7, 2018) www.laurendaigle.com By Bob Marovich “You Say,” by multi-award-winning CCM songstress Lauren Daigle, is a stunning piano-led ballad about God’s positive response to every one of our doubts and insecurities. When we are lonely, God is there. When we feel weak, God is strong. Especially encouraging words in an era of anxiety and uncertainty. Daigle’s energetic, full-throated delivery on this selection falls somewhere between that of Adele and Lady Gaga. Its universal message gives the song plenty of crossover pop potential, especially if it ...

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Apostle James Alston & Fellowship – The Movement

Apostle James Alston & Fellowship The Movement Independent (release date: August 10, 2013) By Bob Marovich Wooden church songs about faith, hope, and gratitude are at the heart of The Movement, the debut release by Portsmouth, Virginia’s Apostle James Alston & Fellowship. Although the name of the group suggests a male-led small choir, Apostle James Alston & Fellowship sounds to my ears like a mixed voice quartet. Shanita Bell is the lone female voice in the otherwise male group, with Apostle Alston delivering the meaty lead vocals that evoke the southern soul quartet tradition. How the group handles its two ...

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“Changed Me” – Vonnie Blackshear

“Changed Me” Vonnie Blackshear (release date: August 10, 2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Dramatic vocalist Vonnie Blackshear of Mount Rainier, Maryland, out-sings the swirl of synthesizers on this declaration of appreciation for being transformed and made stronger by God’s love. While the musicianship gives the song a quiet storm vibe, and in a way, it works because Blackshear’s soaring high notes cry out for equal amounts of musical muscle, I suspect the song would be just as intense, if not more so, were Blackshear backed by just piano, organ, and drums. I’d love to hear a remix version!

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 4, 2018

“He’s Never Failed Me Yet” Saint Mark Sanctuary Choir From The Saint Mark Experience Live (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/saintmarksanctuarychoir By Bob Marovich From the opening strains of “He’s Never Failed Me Yet,” the Sanctuary Choir of Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, is unrelenting in its praise of an unfailing God. Backed by deliciously thick harmonies from the open-throated choir, the lead singer declares that “Momma may fail / Daddy may fail / Sister may fail / Brother may fail / Friend may fail / Pastor may fail,” but God won’t fail. Under the leadership of Darius Nelson, the choir dedicated its album ...

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Cameron Ross – Power: Instrumental Praise & Worship

Cameron Ross Power: Instrumental Praise & Worship Cameron Ross Music (release date: April 19, 2018) www.cameronrossmusic.com By Bob Marovich Jazz saxophonist Cameron Ross’s sophomore album Power lives up to its subtitle. Ross renders contemporary Praise & Worship favorites in the smooth jazz format and then commences to improvise on their melodies on saxophone. Songs such as Israel Houghton’s “You Are Good,” Martha Munizzi’s “Glorious,” and William Murphy’s “You Reign” get this restful but restless treatment. Without lyric context, however, songs such as “Jump” and the title track are virtually indistinguishable from non-sacred jazz instrumentals. A music educator in the Memphis school system, Ross grew ...

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Dave Bass & the DBGs – All Over the Place

Dave Bass & the DBGs All Over the Place DNB Associates (release date: June 15, 2018) www.davebassgospel.com By Bob Marovich Although Dave Bass led a vocal quartet on 1997’s The Welcome Table, on his 2018 release, All Over the Place, he fronts the DBGs (Dave Bass Group), a musical quartet with the sonic signature of a pub blues-rock band. Bass delivers six straightforward selections on his latest project. The theme of the first three tracks is the importance of holding onto faith as the only way to overcome the difficulties of life (Hebrews 11:1). For example, the title track depicts the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 27, 2018

“Love Somebody Today” Genessis & Nikki From the album Genessis & Nikki https://genessisandnikki.com/ By Bob Marovich If the sister duo Genessis & Nikki wanted the single from their self-titled debut album to be a whopper, they sure picked one in “Love Somebody Today.” Written by Riley Clemmons, Gabe Patillo, and the duo’s producer Phil Sillas, “Love Somebody Today” is a rousing, joy-filled anthem that lunges at the listener with a battery of hooks and inspirational messages. The ladies not only believe that love has the power to change the world, they declare that it’s our job to take the first step ...

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