CDs

Gloria Gaynor – Testimony

Gloria Gaynor Testimony Gaither Music Group (release date: June 7, 2019) www.gloriagaynor.com By Bob Marovich The release of Gloria Gaynor’s gospel album Testimony may have taken some by surprise, but if you know something about her life story, it makes sense. In fact, Gaynor’s signature song, “I Will Survive,” followed an almost career-ending accident that added injury to insult, given her acute financial challenges. And in many ways, the life-affirming message of “I Will Survive” helped men and women with the AIDS virus discover hope and celebrate life as they struggled with the debilitating disease. While not every pop star’s ...

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New Heart Band – Forever Yours

New Heart Band Forever Yours (2019) www.newheartband.com By Bob Marovich The New Heart Band’s latest release, Forever Yours, is a collection of breezy, folksy love and worship songs to the Most High sung by husband and wife team Gregg Christenson and Elaine Carter Christenson. Gregg, whose voice has a craggy fragility (think Keith Carradine of “I’m Easy” fame), handles most of the lead spots. Exceptions are when he and Elaine duet on the Latin-tinged “I Love Your Presence,” and when Elaine’s conventionally pretty soprano takes over on “Every Day.” Most of the songs, such as “Only You” and the melodic ...

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Donnie McClurkin – A Different Song

Donnie McClurkin A Different Song RCA Inspiration / CamDon Music (release date: November 15, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich On the heels of the 20th anniversary celebration of the release of Live in London and More…, which contained the smash hit “We Fall Down,” multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Donnie McClurkin has dropped his eighth solo album, A Different Song. The mostly live recording contains eight McClurkin originals. While some songs are straightforward P&W fare, a few are decidedly different, in keeping with the album’s promise. One is the opener, “I Will Call Upon the Lord.” It’s an antiphonal Praise & Worship piece ...

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Elain Thomas – About That Life: Healing and Restoration, Volume 1

Elain Thomas About That Life: Healing and Restoration, Volume 1 (release date: June 18, 2019) By Bob Marovich Elain Thomas’s About That Life: Healing and Restoration, Volume 1 is a concept album of introspective and ostensibly autobiographical selections. The songs’ lyrics of praise and worship are not generalities; they hint at Thomas’s gratitude for overcoming real-life tribulations. The relaxed mood, on the other hand, suggests that Thomas is able to step back and reflect on how she got to rather than still working her way through. References to personal trials and joys are heard most explicitly on “So Much.” Thomas ...

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Vetrea Slack Ruffin – Rain Down on Me

Vetrea Slack Ruffin Rain Down on Me Heavenly Spirit Music (release date: March 30, 2019) www.VetreaSlackRuffin.com By Bob Marovich Some people celebrate turning sixty years old by throwing a party. Others go on vacation, or buy themselves something special. Evangelist Vetrea Slack Ruffin celebrated her 60th year of life by releasing an EP. Rain Down on Me is about twenty minutes of singing by the award-winning gospel singer-songwriter from Alabama and an eight-minute lesson from the pulpit, courtesy of her pastor-husband, Dr. Paul Ruffin. The two opening song selections are modern and boisterous. “Raise Up Judah” is a conventional call-and-response ...

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Don Rutherford – Chronicles 16

Don Rutherford Chronicles 16 Thousand Generations Records (release date: January 19, 2019) www.donrutherfordmusic.net By Bob Marovich Hearing Don Rutherford’s Chronicles 16 reminded me of the concept albums produced in the 1970s by Canadian rock band Rush. This was confirmed with the one-two punch intro to the album’s “Canaan / The Few,” which evokes the opening to Rush’s 2112. Rutherford’s Christian concept album, subtitled “A Psalm in Rock,” is a clever conceit, a rock oratorio based on David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16 (King James Version). A hard-charging rhythm section, screaming guitar solos, and ever-shifting motifs are reminiscent of ...

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Whosoever South – Backroads & Small Towns

Whosoever Sourh Backroads & Small Towns Pit Bull Productions (release date: October 3, 2019) www.whosoeversouth.com By Bob Marovich Backroads & Small Towns, the new album by Whosoever South, the self-proclaimed “country crunk” trio from Southeast Georgia, pulls few punches as it expresses quintessentially American Christian values like hard work, faith in God, righteous living, and believing in the Golden Rule and the rule of law. Like a faith-based version of the country superband Alabama, the trio of husband-and-wife team Rowdy and Sarah Eunice, and Mike Mitchell adopts socially-conservative allegiances to southern mores in “Georgia,” and in the swampy “That’s Country,” ...

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Various Artists – No Other Love

Various Artists No Other Love: Midwest Gospel 1965-1978 Tompkins Square (release date: November 8, 2019) www.tompkinssquare.com By Bob Marovich Its playlist culled from the seemingly-limitless catalog of indie artists and labels, Tompkins Square’s various artists collection No Other Love is full of honest, unbridled soulfulness. There is no large record company smoothing out the rough edges for commercial viability. Unlike the top gospel stars of the day who sustained their ministries by singing full-time, the artists on No Other Love typically limited their appearances to weekends because they had day jobs (that included the pastors). They appeared on local programs, ...

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Ray Holland & the New Boyz of Triumph – Keep on Running

Ray Holland & the New Boyz of Triumph Keep On Running Sharp Records (release date: May 23, 2019) www.sharprecordsusa.com By Bob Marovich With notable exceptions (e.g., Thomas Spann of the Brooklyn All Stars), bass voices in gospel quartet have been gone for quite a while. That’s why it’s a delight to even hear a low baritone voice in a quartet. That’s what you get with Ray Holland & the New Boyz of Triumph. Keep on Running is the latest CD from the New Boyz of Triumph, a group that hails from Talladega, Alabama. Besides Holland, members are Wesley Haley, the ...

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Jesse Cann – A New Song

Jesse CannA New SongJordan Line Music (2019)www.jessecann.com By Bob Marovich At the Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer, a distinguished-looking bearded gentleman named Jesse Cann sat down at a keyboard. In the midst of a musical program featuring thunderous choirs, ecstatic groups, and spirited singers, he offered up an unassuming but nevertheless earnest solo. The audience loved it. Later, Cann, a cancer survivor, took home the Special Event / Instrumental Artist of the Year Award. Cann’s latest album, A New Song, does include an instrumental track and highlights his talent on keys, flugelhorn, and trumpet, but it is a vocal ...

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