CDs

Holly Ann – Light and Bloom

Holly Ann Light and Bloom Deeper Well Records (release date: January 13, 2016) www.deeper-well.com By Bob Marovich Last year, Liz Vice demonstrated that some of the best spiritual music doesn’t have to come from established channels of gospel and CCM talent. Portland, Oregon’s Christian alternative singer-songwriter Holly Ann Winchell (aka Holly Ann) is another pleasant discovery in this same vein.  Released last month on Deeper Well Records, her Light and Bloom is a great big introspective thank you letter to God. The album’s praise songs are atmospheric and minimal, Holly Ann’s voice beguiling and poignant. Although her publicity cites Mazzy Star as ...

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Christians Catch Hell: Gospel Roots 1976-79

Various Artists Christians Catch Hell: Gospel Roots 1976-79 Honest Jon’s Records http://honestjons.com/shop/artist/Christians_Catch_Hell By Bob Marovich Those of us who moved and grooved to 1970s hits by the likes of George McCrae and K.C. and the Sunshine Band on Henry Stone’s TK label had no idea the veteran record man had a subsidiary reserved for the sacred. He did.  It was called Gospel Roots and, thanks to Honest Jon’s Records, Christians Catch Hell is a top-quality retrospective of the label’s life and times. The title and front cover of the album reference the extended title track of the Reverend Edna Isaac and the ...

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Dynamic Abraham Brothers – Use What I Have

The Dynamic Abraham Brothers Use What I Have New Ham Records By Bob Marovich I don’t know what else the Dynamic Abraham Brothers could possibly have done to make Use What I Have a more archetypal gospel quartet album. First, the quintessential quartet drive tempo quickens the title track as well as the handclapping “God Wants to Move” and “No More Yokes.” Whereas gospel quartet albums today have one, maybe two, drive songs, Use What I Have has three. Second, the lyrics cover well-trodden quartet territory, which means country church wisdom that has been the foundation of gospel music for ...

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Jor’Dan Armstrong – Confident EP

Jor’Dan Armstrong Confident SeaQ/Good Guys (release date: January 1, 2016) www.jordanarmstrongmusic.com By Bob Marovich Almost immediately after the clock signaled the start of 2016, Jor’Dan Armstrong dropped his six-track EP, Confident, possibly making it the first gospel release of the new year. The timing is not coincidental. Armstrong has deemed this EP somewhat of a new direction for him. Indeed, while the messaging is just as positive and encouraging as his other releases, such as last year’s lively 25 Days of Summer, the music—from the opening siren strains of “All I Know” to the concluding tones of the evangelistic “So For ...

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Deon Kipping – A Place Called Victory (EP)

Deon Kipping A Place Called Victory EP RCA Inspiration (January 8, 2016) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Connecticut’s Deon Kipping stepped into the gospel music spotlight first as a songwriter (with JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise’s “Incredible God, Incredible Praise”) and as a featured vocalist almost immediately thereafter (on “Incredible God, Incredible Praise”). From there, his music and singing took him to the Billboard charts. A Place Called Victory is Kipping’s latest release and as an EP, it is a foretaste of a full album soon to follow. The four selections are well chosen because they are all effervescently sung by ...

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Kassandra McGhee – Heavenscape: A Call to Worship

Kassandra McGhee Heavenscape: A Call to Worship (release date: August 28, 2015) www.mypower4living.com By Bob Marovich Ten tension-taming tracks comprise Evangelist Kassandra McGhee’s latest album, Heavenscape: A Call to Worship. True to its title, and in keeping with McGhee’s work as a praise and worship singer in and around Chicago, the songs in lyric and arrangement are all about vertical praise. It is clear from the opening selection, “Prelude of Worship,” that McGhee’s songwriting and voice have matured greatly since her 2009 release, Completely. First off, she is a more confident soprano, showing greater strength and support, but not to the ...

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New Friendship Anointed Voices – Legacy Fulfilled

Pastor Royce F. Thompson Sr. Presents New Friendship Anointed Voices A Long Time Coming: Legacy Fulfilled (released December 12, 2015) www.nfmbcofgary.org By Bob Marovich A Long Time Coming: Legacy Fulfilled may be the first gospel CD to recommend itself solely on the basis of its praise break alone. Not that the other tracks on the Gary, Indiana, church’s debut album aren’t quality—they certainly are—but the nine minute praise break that follows Anthony Hardin’s hand-clapper “Just Like You” represents the exuberant Holy Ghost experience better than any project has in a long time. The listener feels as exhausted as those who ...

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Dr. Karry D. Wesley Presents the Antioch Fellowship Church Voices of Praise: Speak to My Heart

Dr. Karry D. Wesley Presents the Antioch Fellowship Church Voices of Praise Speak to My Heart Antioch Fellowship MBC (release date: January 15, 2016) www.afmbc.org By Bob Marovich Big churches need big choirs, and big choirs need a big sound to fill a big church. The Voices of Praise choir envelops the 54,000 square-foot Worship Center of the Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—a state where big is boss—with its thunderous timbre. That, and a contemporary flourish with no small amount of traditional flair. The choir’s self-produced debut album, Speak to My Heart, offers up examples of their ...

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Conrad Miller – Thankful

Conrad Miller Thankful Millcon Music Ministries (release date: January 15, 2016) www.conradmillermusic.com By Bob Marovich If you don’t know Conrad Miller from his relatively newfound career in the sacred music field, you may remember him as a member of 1970s smooth soul groups the Soulful Seven or the Softones. Miller’s throaty croon that helped to float the Softones’ “Carla, My Love” onto the airwaves can be heard on his latest gospel album, Thankful. Like his previous release, Keep Pressing, Thankful rides in a musically conventional lane.  True to the album’s title, most of the songs contain straightforward lyrics of praise and ...

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Trinity Dawson – With All I Am

Trinity Dawson With All I Am New Day (2015) www.trinitydawsonmusic.com By Bob Marovich Flexibility is a critical asset for a running back. It certainly helped Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Trinity Dawson. When he was a running back for the University of Toledo, flexibility helped him to enter the school record book for rushing yards. Dawson’s beguiling tenor voice is just as flexible. It is, in fact, the ideal vehicle for the easy, ambient religious music that he has embraced and showcases on his debut album, With All I Am. Dawson’s sound falls somewhere between Jonathan McReynolds and John Legend, the latter an acknowledged ...

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