CDs

Nashville Life Music – The Taylor House Sessions (EP)

Nashville Life Music The Taylor House Sessions (EP) Integrity Music (release date: May 24, 2019) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich From the loping tempo and bass-heavy opening of the single “My God,” and the playful use of auto-tune by Byron Chambers (aka Mr. Talkbox) as a medium for scatting and raising lyric lines, you know that Nashville Life Music has soul. The overall feeling of the group’s Taylor House Sessions EP, recorded at the Taylor House Studio in East Nashville, Tennessee, and especially given the cheering and applause between selections, is of a relaxed communal singalong powered by a throbbing rhythm ...

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Absolution – Breakthrough

Absolution Breakthrough Independent (release date: March 14, 2019) By Bob Marovich On the album Breakthrough, Absolution adopts an ‘80s R&B vocal group style mixed with elements of smooth jazz to deliver religious and inspirational songs inspired by personal experience. The mixed-voice group Absolution was organized in North Augusta, South Carolina, in 2014 by singer-songwriter Wayne Mims and lead guitarist John Henry Walker. The members’ ages run from teenager to senior, so it seems as if they found a happy medium in laying down ’80s-vintage smooth R&B as their musical foundation. While the members of Absolution don’t go into great detail ...

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The Southern Sons of Memphis – “Live” At Home in Memphis

The Southern Sons of Memphis “Live” At Home in Memphis SOME Records (2016) www.sonsofmemphismusic.com By Bob Marovich Although released in 2016, the Southern Sons of Memphis’s “Live” At Home in Memphis is, like most gospel quartet recordings without undue amounts of synthesizer, evergreen. Bob Holloway, the Southern Sons’ longstanding member, is lead vocalist on almost all of the tracks on this album, recorded at Boston Baptist Church in Memphis. His vocal delivery alternates between flatfooted crooning, pleading, shouting and, when the spirit catches him, a high-pitched shriek that emerges from his shout. Like a minister at the pulpit, Holloway interpolates ...

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Johnny Burroughs – DAY 1

Johnny Burroughs DAY 1 (release date: May 24, 2019) www.johnnyburroughsmusic.com By Bob Marovich The debut solo release by Johnny Burroughs, lead vocalist for Denver band The Burroughs, is not a romp through the “sweaty soul music” for which the band is known but a thrumming Christian album titled DAY 1. Though it would be unnatural for Burroughs to not channel some “sweaty soul” into DAY 1, he draws more heavily on his other life as a pastor and music minister. This self-penned, self-produced batch of lyrically and melodically uncomplicated songs of praise and worship invokes the sonic inventiveness of Bryan ...

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Faithful Connection – Personal Experience

Faithful Connection Personal Experience (release date: March 22, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/faithfulconnection12 By Bob Marovich Rhythm of Gospel Awardee Faithful Connection of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is a gospel quartet that blends elements of traditional gospel singing and lyricism with contemporary instrumentation and bass-heavy beats. They celebrate their tenth anniversary with a new EP, Personal Experience, produced by Richard Davis. As on the quartet’s 2015 album Thank You, the majority of the tracks on Personal Experience are led by group founder Jonathan Mercer, with cameos and ad-libs by TaWan Gray. The EP’s initial single and opening track, “I Made It,” is a gritty piece ...

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New York Fellowship Children’s Choir – God is the Greatest

New York Fellowship Children’s Choir God is the Greatest Godfather Records (release date: March 22, 2019) By Bob Marovich As any elementary school teacher will tell you, it can be challenging to get young people to work together for a common purpose. But the New York Fellowship Children’s Choir has accomplished this feat and recorded the results on its debut album, God is the Greatest. Directed by Jerry Williams and Marilyn Walker, the New York Fellowship Children’s Choir is an adjunct ministry to the New York Fellowship Mass Choir, organized by the late Reverend Timothy Wright and now led by ...

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Christa Deana

Christa Deana Self-titled Hitman Records (release date: December 7, 2018) www.christadeana.com By Bob Marovich Philadelphia singer-songwriter Christa Deana (pron. Duh-nay) opens her self-titled CD with a forthright narrative about her calling, accepted at a very young age, to be a fisher of souls. But, she recounts, upon encountering one painful challenge and disappointment after another in pursuit of her calling, she almost gave up and even contemplated suicide. Angry at God for putting her in such a precarious position, she said: “I threw my Christianity on the floor and built it back up from scratch.” That made all the difference. ...

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Janice Gaines – Lead Me

Janice Gaines Lead Me (release date: March 22, 2019) www.janicegaines.com By Bob Marovich Janice Gaines’ Lead Me is a brief but satisfying journey through the hymnbook. It is also a far better showcase for her affecting vocal delivery than Greatest Life Ever, her 2015 album for Motown Gospel. Whereas that album aimed to attract a mass audience by offering generous helpings of bumping bass and electronica, it seemed ill-fitted to Gaines’s more grounded talent. This album, on the other hand, employs the less is more philosophy, meaning it is more authentically rooted in gospel’s one foundation: the church. As if ...

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Elsa Harris – I Thank God

Elsa Harris I Thank God The Sirens (release date: March 15, 2019) www.thesirensrecords.com By Bob Marovich Chicago is the birthplace of gospel music and, in many respects, it’s also the home of the genre’s most ardent preservation efforts. In addition to the forthcoming National Museum of Gospel Music, the vitality of traditional gospel in the Windy City can be heard on veteran gospel artist Elsa Harris’s mostly instrumental CD, I Thank God. Harris’s piano proclivities, forged in the practice room as well as the church, recalls the jauntiness of traditional gospel, a distinctive sound too often obscured in the wake ...

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Zion’s Joy! – What Would Heaven Look Like

Zion’s Joy! What Would Heaven Look Like Habakkuk Music (release date: March 8, 2019) www.zionsjoy.com By Bob Marovich Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, the multicultural small choir called Zion’s Joy! made national news in mid-2018 when the video for their single, “What Would Heaven Look Like,” was erroneously blocked by Facebook. From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department: it was only after the group paid to boost their Facebook post of the video that it was flagged by the social media giant as “political content” and subsequently blocked. The company ultimately apologized and restored the video on its platform, noting ...

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