CDs

1K Phew & Lecrae – No Church in a While

1K Phew & Lecrae No Church in a While Reach Records (release date: December 3, 2021) www.reachrecords.com By Robert M. Marovich Christian hip hop artists don’t need the four walls of a church to spread the good news and save souls. They never have. Quite the opposite – they do their best work ministering along humanity’s highways and byways. Nevertheless, that didn’t keep 1K Phew and Lecrae from wondering about those who haven’t been to church in a while, because of the pandemic, because of church hurt, or both. On their ten-track No Church in a While, the Reach Records ...

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Darius Droc Jackson – The Great Commission

Darius Droc Jackson The Great Commission Independent (release date: July 17, 2020) www.youtube.com/mrdroc2010 By Robert M. Marovich I’ve heard plenty of independently-produced holy hip hop projects that leave me feeling meh. Whether it’s the hasty production, derivative beats, or humdrum rhymes, they fall short of their promise. Not so The Great Commission. Darius Droc (pron. D-Rock) Jackson and his featured vocalists and producers offer ten measured, melodic meditations on the power of global discipleship. The opening track, a hook-laden, melodic, and radio-friendly “Kingdom Business,” serves up the album’s main premise: the Great Commission to preach the word of God to ...

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Quentin Walston – The Good Book Suite

Quentin Walston The Good Book Suite (release date: November 20, 2021) www.quentinwalston.com By Robert M. Marovich Pianist-composer Quentin Walston’s The Good Book Suite is a four-part instrumental jazz piece with a spiritual foundation. A trio of piano, drums, and bass interprets Bible passages that brought Walston and his family through the financial and emotional ebbs and flows caused by the pandemic. The first two parts of the suite borrow their text from Isaiah 41:10. The incrementally dramatic tensions that ultimately envelope the opening section, “Fear Not,” resolve and transition peacefully into the optimistic “I’m With You.” Matthew 28:30 fuels “Till ...

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Gene Hoskins – Homecoming (Deluxe Edition)

Download Gene HoskinsHomecoming (Deluxe Edition)Shanachie Entertainment (release date: October 29, 2021)www.shanachie.com By Robert M. Marovich Gene Hoskins, a mental health therapist and gospel singer from North Carolina, combines his passions to provide insight and encouragement on Homecoming (Deluxe Edition). Eliding seamlessly, the first two selections, “Prodigal P.O.V.” and the title track, are the physician healing himself. Hoskins meanders on an introspective electronic R&B path, a sort-of gospel recitative on his journey back to spiritual clarity. The album truly comes alive, however, with “Make It With Jesus,” an explosively churchy piece. The single, which hit #14 on Billboard’s Gospel Singles chart, ...

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Gail Stewart & Prayz4 – s/t

Gail Stewart & Prayz4 Self-titled Independent (release date: July 12, 2017) By Robert M. Marovich What is immediately evident about the self-titled CD by the Texas-based family gospel group Gail Stewart & Prayz4 is its emphasis on modernizing traditional hymns and gospels. For example, the group gives the nineteenth-century hymn “I Need Thee” a mid-tempo R&B treatment, complete with bongos and snarling guitar, while Gail’s breathy soprano directs the rest of the singers toward a bluesy vamp. “Where He Leads Me” bathes the basic premise of the original hymn in a cornucopia of sounds, melodies, and new lyrics sufficient to ...

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Harriet Fraser – Peace

Harriet Fraser Peace Independent (release date: October 8, 2021) www.harrietfraser.com By Robert M. Marovich On her brief but touchingly lovely debut album Peace, soprano Harriet Frasier harmonizes with herself, two-parts unaccompanied, a touch of echo evoking the sense of being recorded in a stone-walled cathedral instead of the California studios that served as the true sites of production. Shawn Kirchner’s ambient arrangements of a dozen folk songs, classical pieces, and sacred fare are designed to lull the listener into a state of relaxation, calmness, peacefulness. Delivered with Fraser’s soothing voice(s), the album delivers on its premise. Of the sacred selections, ...

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Various Artists – Kerry Douglas Gospel Mix Christmas

Various Artists Kerry Douglas Gospel Mix Christmas Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: November 5, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich It’s that time again—Christmas songs and albums are hitting music reviewers’ inboxes. Among the earliest is a Kerry Douglas holiday celebration, an extension of his popular and longstanding Gospel Mix franchise into the Yuletide trade. Co-produced by Chicago’s own Gregory Gay, the project offers up new and familiar Christmas songs by artists signed to Douglas’s Blacksmoke Music Worldwide. The album’s best tracks are gospel arrangements of classic Christmas carols and songs. For example, powerhouse vocalist Monica Lisa Stevenson renders “Have Yourself ...

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Quinten Simon – God Did Just What He Said

Quinten Simon God Did Just What He Said Independent (release date: August 22, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb in proposing that Quinten Simon is a fan of the 1980s mass choir sound. His album, God Did Just What He Said, sounds like a Savoy Records release during the 1980s, the golden era of the gospel choir. Simon and eleven background vocalists that sing with the authority of a workshop choir blend contemporary and traditional styles on this ten-selection album. That bold mass choir sound is especially evident on the ...

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God’s Children – It’s So Amazing

God’s Children It’s So Amazing Independent (2018) https://www.facebook.com/godschildrenmemphis By Robert M. Marovich On It’s So Amazing, the Memphis, Tennessee-based Shirika “Re Re” Flowers and God’s Children (and also Re Re’s eldest children), run through a battery of gospel quartet-style songs, rendered with a churchy vibe and with frequent vamps for evangelical emphasis. Although the album notes do not include the names of specific lead singers for each of the album’s ten tracks, aurally it appears as if every member of the troupe has a chance to solo at least once. Young solo voices are particularly audible on “It Was Jesus,” ...

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Various Artists – Quartet is in My DNA

Various Artists Quartet is in My DNA 4 Winds / Malaco Music Group (release date: September 10, 2021) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich On Quartet is in My DNA, the brainchild of Roy Ladson of Roy and Revelation, Paul Porter hosts a passel of current-day gospel singers who dust off classic songs by Ladson’s favorite gospel artists for a down-home, spirit-filled quartet program. All but Porter and Joseph Wooden lead an A and B selection on this project. Nevertheless, Wooden gets to lead off, and he does so with aplomb on the Soul Stirrers’ “Resting Easy,” complete with dynamic repetitive ...

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