5 Stars

The Sons of the Soul Revivers: Live! Rancho Nicasio

The Sons of the Soul Revivers Live! Rancho Nicasio Little Village Foundation www.littlevillagefoundation.org By Bob Marovich The Sons of the Soul Revivers are on a quest to achieve the kind of widespread visibility that the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Fairfield Four have enjoyed for the past three decades. Based on the sound of their new album, Live! Rancho Nicasio, the guys are definitely on the right track. Recorded during two sold out shows at the Rancho Nicasio, a roadhouse in Marin County, California, that specializes in presenting roots music, the album was produced by the Little Village Foundation, a ...

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Jason Nelson – The Answer

Jason Nelson The Answer RCA Inspiration (release date: May 18, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich What makes Jason Nelson’s The Answer the finest of his five solo albums to date is the quality of the songs. Several of the melodic and biblically-based worship ballads on this live project are not only infectious, but they have a timeless quality. Outstanding songs on The Answer include the current single, “Forever,” as well as the quiescent “In the Room,” which demonstrates that an artist can get a message across—in this instance, that everything one needs can be sought through prayer—without thunder and fury. “Help Me,” which features ...

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Nine Beats Collective – Nine Beats to the Bar

Nine Beats Collective Nine Beats to the Bar Plankton Records (release date: June 16, 2017) www.9beats.org By Bob Marovich Nine Beats Collective is an assembly of musicians, songwriters, composers, singers, and poets who represent three continents and contribute different musical styles, but have one thing in common: healing the world from the inside out. A product of their efforts, Nine Beats to the Bar, is as singular in its motive as it is variable in its sound. While gospel music elements are present on the Reverend Vince Anderson’s “#blessed,” the sound shuffles, track by track, between jazz, classical, R&B, spoken word, and pop music. On the other hand, the message ...

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Paul Thorn – Don’t Let the Devil Ride

Paul Thorn Don’t Let the Devil Ride Perpetual Obscurity Records (release date:  March 23, 2018) www.paulthorn.com By Bob Marovich Paul Thorn’s Don’t Let the Devil Ride hits the Americana music jackpot. With the Blind Boys of Alabama and the McCrary Sisters as guest vocalists, the Preservation Hall Horns among the musicians, and Rick Hall’s Fame and Sam Phillips’ studios as well as Preservation Hall providing recording mojo, Thorn could have performed “Happy Birthday to You” and it would have sounded smothered in tangy barbeque sauce. But Thorn taps his sacred roots (his father was a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy, ...

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Snoop Dogg – Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love

Snoop Dogg Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love RCA Inspiration / All The Time Entertainment (release date: March 16, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Calvin Broadus Jr. assumes the pulpit. In soft tones, he looks the congregation in the eye and strongly recommends that those who point fingers at others should instead point them at themselves. Treat your neighbor right is the sermonette, in rhyme. The choir nods its collective head. The organist anticipates a praise break. The orator is better known to the world as Snoop Dogg, and the song, “Voices of Praise,” is on Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love. The two-CD album, ...

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Morris Mingo feat. the With One Voice Ensemble: The Time of the Minstrel

Morris Mingo featuring the With One Voice Ensemble & Friends The Time of the Minstrel Moming Productions (release date: October 27, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/morrismingo By Bob Marovich The Time of the Minstrel is an independently-produced album that deserves major label attention. From the quality of its packaging and album notes to the rich mix of songs to the singers and musicians, this is an excellent project. It doesn’t always work when an artist writes all the songs for his or her project, but it does for the Ohio-based Morris Mingo, who presents many top-notch songs for soloists and choir on this ...

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Anthony Brown & group therapy: [a long way from sunday]

Anthony Brown & group therAPy [a long way from sunday] Tyscot Records (release date: July 28, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich [a long way from Sunday] is Anthony Brown & group therAPy’s third album for Tyscot Records and the follow-up to 2015’s Everyday Jesus, which earned the group no less than ten Stellar Awards in 2016, including Song of the Year for “Worth.” The album may be third in chronological order, but it is number one in terms of quality and consistency of message. Brown opens with a brief narration that sets the album’s tone. He says he was “raised ...

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The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio: Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965

The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio Moving Up – The Early Years 1956-1965 Gospel Friend (release date: November 17, 2017) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich The Gospelaires of Dayton, Ohio, were one of the hardest singing quartets on the gospel highway during the genre’s storied golden era. The quartet was part of touring packages that crisscrossed the country.  They eventually made it to the stage of the Apollo Theater and across the ocean to Europe. But as popular as the Gospelaires were, scant attention has been paid to them in the CD reissue market. It’s no surprise that Per Notini’s Gospel Friend label, the ...

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Ruth La’Ontra – I Got You

Ruth La’Ontra I Got You ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records (release date: September 22, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich To the best of my recollection, the last time a Ruth Jones was in gospel music, she was a teenager singing with Sallie Martin. Finding it difficult to keep boy-crazy Ruth in check, Sallie returned her to her mother. Ruth later resurfaced as a solo artist, better known as the Queen of the Blues Dinah Washington. The new Ruth Jones goes by Ruth La’Ontra. On I Got You, the live follow-up to her debut release, So Good, Ruth showcases an instantly appealing gospel voice that ...

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Various Artists – Jesus Rocked the Jukebox

Various Artists Jesus Rocked the Jukebox Craft Records / Concord Music Group (2017) http://www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/jesus-rocked-jukebox-small-group-black-gospel-1951-1965/ By Bob Marovich In addition to its estimable contributions to the religious, social, and political life of African Americans, the church has also been an effective music training school. Untold numbers of men and women have learned to sing or play instruments before discerning but sympathetic church communities. While some singers and musicians committed their musical talent wholly to God, others sought fame in the financially lucrative world of rock and roll and R&B. This exit caused no small amount of consternation among churchgoers who felt that ...

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