5 Stars

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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Nichole Nordeman – Every Mile Mattered

Nichole Nordeman Every Mile Mattered Sparrow Records / Capitol CMG Label Group www.sparrowrecords.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman has a lot to say in her new album, Every Mile Mattered, and we need to hear it. In a hauntingly beautiful voice that evokes contemporary folk artists Beth Nielsen Chapman and Alice Peacock, Nordeman offers a theology stripped of fiats and thou shalts. For her, it’s simple. Jesus is everywhere, at all times, and in every moment of our lives.  For example, in “You’re Here,” Nordeman hears God saying that “the only invitation that you need, is the very ...

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Bigger Than Me – Le’Andria

Bigger Than Me Le’Andria RCA Inspiration (release date: July 21, 2017) By Bob Marovich Bigger Than Me, Le’Andria Johnson’s fifth album, is her best album since her 2011 debut, the chart-topping Music World Gospel release, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson. Best because the songs, for the first time since Awakening, feel right for her, melodically and lyrically. This album is direct and honest rather than focused on inspirational messages with an undercurrent of crossover aspiration. Song lyrics like “I’ve tried every shortcut” and have “gone through hell” (“Come Through”) and “I took on way too much…now I have to pay the cost” ...

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Preashea Hilliard – The Glory Experience

Preashea Hilliard The Glory Experience Daywind Records (release date: April 21, 2017) www.preasheahilliard.com By Bob Marovich “Are you ready for revival?” Preashea Hilliard asks the live recording audience at New Light Church in Houston, Texas. The crowd gives Hilliard, the daughter of New Light’s leaders Bishop I.V. and Pastor Bridget Hilliard, its assent.  But what she proposes is not an old-style tent revival, and they know it. The intention may be the same but hers is a twenty-first century version more accurately described in the album’s title as an “experience.” The Glory Experience album is, for all intents, a portable ...

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