CDs

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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Nikki “D” & the Browns – The Divine Treatment (EP)

Nikki “D” & the Browns The Divine Treatment EP Independent (release date: January 2020) By Bob Marovich Outside of the Campbell Brothers, it seems as if sacred steel music has been relegated to historic reissues. But lap steel is audible on The Divine Treatment, a new EP by Nikki “D” & the Browns of Toledo, Ohio. A member of Soul City House of God International in Toledo, which split from the Church of the Living God, Jewell Dominion—the denominational home of sacred steel—Nicole “Nikki” Brown has been playing steel guitar since age nine. She, her three sisters, and a niece, ...

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Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr. – Testify

Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr. Testify Steppin’ Stone Records (release date: February 14, 2020) By Bob Marovich “From the blues to the good news,” declares the Reverend John Lee Hooker Jr.’s website, though listening to his new album, Testify, blues has not left the building entirely. It’s just backing up lyrics of encouragement and warning instead of “Extramarital Affair” and “Pay the Rent.” Son of the legendary bluesman John Lee “Boogie Man” Hooker, Reverend John Lee Jr. received Grammy nominations for his blues albums. But a life of imprisonment, addiction, and having been being shot and stabbed forced him to ...

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For the Lord – I’m Gonna Do Your Will

For the Lord I’m Gonna Do Your Will Independent (2019) By Bob Marovich From the Soul Stirrers to Endurance, Houston, Texas, has a strong gospel quartet history. For the Lord is another quartet that hails from the 713. As demonstrated on its full-length release, I’m Gonna Do Your Will, the group possesses an easy, relaxed sound, pulling elements from the smooth-singing R&B male groups of the 1990s. That is not to say For the Lord doesn’t have drive tempo tracks up their sleeve. One of them, “Yes I Did,” opens the album. The song is led by Phillip Grant, who ...

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Mighty Men of Faith – Live at Valley Christian

Mighty Men of Faith Live at Valley Christian N2L Records (release date: January 21, 2020) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/mightymenoffaith15 By Bob Marovich Live at Valley Christian by the Mighty Men of Faith was recorded in front of 2,400 enthusiastic young students at the Valley Christian School in San Jose, California. Typically, there’s no more critical crowd of listeners than a group of young people, but the Mighty Men of Faith appear to have won them over. The smooth modern quartet brought their friendly and relaxed delivery to the school—they sound like the Dells singing gospel. The California-based quartet’s music is driven by a ...

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Renee Spearman – I Love Him

Renee Spearman I Love Him JDI Records (release date: September 27, 2019) By Bob Marovich The Stellar-nominated songstress Renee Spearman, formerly one-half of the contemporary gospel duo Renee Spearman and Prez, has been working on her own for quite some time. Her first new solo album in seven years, I Love Him, has a battery of producers, a choir directed by Tony Jones, strings, and brass. All but one of the album’s nine selections come from Spearman’s pen. That one, the relaxed “Having You There,” is by David Curry Jr. of the Mississippi Mass Choir. While the current single, featuring ...

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