CDs

Look to the Hills – Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir

Rev. Luther Barnes & the Restoration Worship Center Choir Look to the Hills Shanachie Entertainment / SRT Entertainment (release date: May 29, 2020) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Listening to the title track and lead single of Reverend Luther Barnes’ latest album, I revisited a thought I’ve had for some time: Barnes has emerged as today’s most important representative of traditional-flavored gospel music. The heartwarming and optimistic “Look to the Hills,” made all the more heartbreaking by the recent passing of its co-writer, Derrick Adams, is the latest in a string of hits crafted in the southern choir-tet sound, pioneered by ...

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Frye Family Band – Things Unseen

Frye Family Band Things Unseen Oubache Music (release date: 2020) www.FryeFamilyBand.com By Bob Marovich Family bands in Christian music are ubiquitous and have been since the beginning of the genre. Think of the Rambos, the Gaithers, the Goodmans, the Whites, the Crabbs, and on and on. Another is the Frye Family Band. The group is a fresh-faced ensemble hailing from New Corydon, Indiana, a rural community located on the banks of the Wabash River and just west of the Ohio state line. Their new release, Things Unseen, is a fine sampler of their multi-instrumental skills, earnest lyrics, and harmonies that ...

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Kierra Sheard – Kierra

Kierra Sheard Kierra Karew Records & Entertainment / Provident Label Group / RCA Inspiration (release date: April 17, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In a scene from the LIFETIME biopic The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark stands before top officials of the Church of God in Christ who question her participation in a “worldly” musical presentation. In response, Clark challenges their inflexibility and intolerance. Pushing the musical envelope is a family tradition, and Kierra Sheard, Dr. Clark’s granddaughter, is the latest in the Clark-Moss dynasty to challenge convention. But it has taken an emotional toll ...

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Reba Rambo – Confessions

Reba Rambo Confessions Entertainment One (original release date: 1980; digital release: May 1, 2020) www.rebarambo.com By Bob Marovich Originally released forty years ago, Reba Rambo’s solo album Confessions is getting a redux courtesy of Entertainment One. It’s the latest Rambo album to be re-introduced since her 1977 disc, Lady, was digitally remastered last year. Like Tramaine Hawkins and Andrae Crouch, Rambo wasn’t afraid to set Christian lyrics and sentiments to present-day pop sounds, even though the “worldly” sound rocked some church folk at the time. Even Confessions’ sexy and stylish album cover telegraphed that this wasn’t business as usual. The ...

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Da’ T.R.U.T.H. – Chasing Ghosts (EP)

Da’ T.R.U.T.H. Chasing Ghosts (EP) Independent (release date: March 27, 2020) By Bob Marovich Christian hip hop artist Da’ T.R.U.T.H. drops unvarnished facts on his new three-track EP Chasing Ghosts. “Never Fail,” the single from the musical appetite whetter, is the finest and most radio-friendly of the three selections. Featuring silky R&B tenor Greg Cox, the song inadvertently captures the current zeitgeist in recognizing how people question God “in dry seasons.” “If God would fix everything,” Da’ T.R.U.T.H. rhymes, taking the point of view of a skeptic, “that would make him appealing / But since He can and he doesn’t, ...

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Various Artists: Carolina’s Got Talent

Various Artists Carolina’s Got Talent Ruffboyzmusic Group LLC and Overboard Records (release date: April 17, 2020) By Bob Marovich From the looks of the Billboard gospel charts, you might think traditional gospel music is dead and gone, but that’s not the case. In the Carolinas, for example, plenty of wooden church-honed singers, groups, and quartets are active. But hearing many of them means traveling to the Carolinas to attend the multi-artist gospel programs hosted by local radio stations. With 90% of the country in stay-at-home mode, the multi-artist program has to come to you. A sampling of the traditional sound ...

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Erica Reed – (s/t)

Erica Reed Erica Reed Independent (release date: January 10, 2020) www.ericareedmusic.com By Bob Marovich On her new, self-titled album, the St. Louis-based singer-songwriter Erica Reed journeys into new production territory. For example, atmospheric electronica and 808 beats propel several selections, such as “Enough,” where Reed testifies about Jesus’s ability to heal suffering. “Get Up” is a call to celebrate and dance out our differences and divisions rather than ruminate on them. The sunny “New Day” weaves its call to discipleship in ‘80s Madonna-like snappiness. On the other hand, “Sorry,” with its heartbeat rhythm, has a small combo sound, a memorable ...

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Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions: Vol. 4

Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions Vol. 4 MDGS Records (release date: March 6, 2020) http://michelledavidandthegospelsessions.com/ By Bob Marovich If you didn’t know better, you’d think that the fourth volume of songs by Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions is a long lost vinyl album from the 1970s, but it’s as recent as today’s breakfast. The disc reunites David, born and educated in New York and living in Holland since 1994, with Holland multi-instrumentalists Onno Smit, Toon Oomen, and Paul Willemsen. The album follows and responds to a series of highs and lows for the aggregation. Highs: Volume 3 earned ...

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Isaac Carree – No Risk No Reward

Isaac Carree No Risk No Reward Shanachie Entertainment Group (release date: March 20, 2020) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Isaac Carree has bestowed upon his first solo album in seven years a very accurate title. And in so doing, he has scored his best solo recording to date. No Risk No Reward finds Carree, former member of the genre-bending Men of Standard, pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a gospel album. In fact, the CD is two albums in one. The first part comprises an extended quiet storm expression of love to Carree’s earthly love, wife Dietra. As with Kim Burrell’s ...

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We Are Heirs – Awaken Me (EP)

We Are Heirs Awaken Me (EP) (release date: January 22, 2020) https://weareheirsmusic.com/ By Bob Marovich Not to be confused with the Irish group We Are Messengers, We Are Heirs is comprised of American songwriter Eric Defend and vocalist Ben Bylsma. Nevertheless, the two Christian pop groups share a musical foundation of dramatic rock with electro-symphonic overtones. We Are Heirs demonstrates its Coldplay-meets-Hillsong United vibe on an earnest three-track EP titled Awaken Me. Featuring a liquidy electronic backdrop fronted by a persistent piano riff, the title track is a melodic prayer of thanksgiving for being rescued from a metaphoric sleep and ...

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