CDs

WDF – What the World Needs Now

WDF What the World Needs Now Studio Cloud 30 (release date: November 10, 2015) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich I rarely award an EP or mini-album five stars because that puts extraordinary pressure on the full-length CD that inevitably follows to be as good, if not better, than the more diminutive project.  It’s akin to giving a new artist a lifetime achievement award.  Where do you go from there? But in the case of WDF’s What the World Needs Now, however, I am making an exception. Canadian gospel artist Warren Dean Flandez, known as WDF, has created a mini album that deservedly ...

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For the Lord – Greater

For the Lord Greater (private press 2015) By Bob Marovich For the Lord may be an unorthodox name for a gospel quartet, but the group has been around for some time and their new album, Greater, demonstrates that the gentlemen are 100 percent gospel quartet with a traditional bent. The quartet appears to favor brisk tempo sing- and clap-along songs, as the album has several, starting with the opening cut, “He’s Alright” and “Blessing On the Way.” “Grip on God” and “Solution is Jesus” also have that rocking rhythm that is quintessentially quartet. Johnavan “Bo Peep” Sauls, the credited songwriter, works ...

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Treva – I Am Praise

Treva I Am Praise (EP) chezmusique (2014) www.TrevaJones.com By Bob Marovich Treva Jones did it the right way. The Houston, Texas, vocalist released a five-track EP that showcases the many shades of her vocal talent on songs written by gifted songwriters such as V. Michael McKay and the late O’Landa Draper.  She hired Sanchez Harley as a producer, and she stayed fairly true to one style of gospel (in her case, traditional) instead of wandering around in an effort to please everyone. Treva demonstrates vocal versatility on I Am Praise.  The opening cut, “There’s a Blessing,” is a new song ...

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The Abyssinian Mass – Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis Featuring Damien Sneed and Chorale Le Chateau The Abyssinian Mass Blue Engine Records (release date: March 18, 2016) www.blueenginerecords.org By Bob Marovich During the sermon section of The Abyssinian Mass, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III welcomes congregants with a statement that is the underlying theme of the piece: “Everybody has a place in the house of God.” Unity in diversity under one supreme deity is the binding agent of The Abyssinian Mass, written in partnership with Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church by Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz musician, composer, and educator Wynton Marsalis. Blending ...

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Bri (Briana Babineaux) – Keys to My Heart

Bri (Briana Babineaux) Keys to My Heart Tyscot Records / Marquis Boone Enterprises (release date: March 25, 2016) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich You probably know Briana Babineaux (Bri), the pompadour-wearing fashionista, from her Instagram singing segments that racked up such significant interest among the hoi polloi that she garnered attention from Marquis Boone, the man who transformed Casey J from schoolteacher to Billboard charting artist. Bri’s twelve-track debut album with Boone and Tyscot, Keys to My Heart, answers the growing “Bri Nation’s” encore cry and offers further proof of the singer’s, and soon to be college graduate’s, talent. The album has a hybrid production sound ...

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Jonathan Nelson – Fearless

Jonathan Nelson Fearless Light Records/Entertainment One Music (release date: March 18, 2016) www.jonathannelson.us By Bob Marovich Who would have imagined, back in 2004 when he appeared on the national gospel music scene, that the irrepressible new-school gospel artist Tye Tribbett would someday lead an old school-style praise break? That’s exactly what he does at the conclusion of Fearless, the live recording from Stellar Award-winner Jonathan Nelson. The eight-plus minute “I Give You Glory,” with Tribbett as pastor/song leader, rides along on a praise break beat, tying Nelson’s fifth album in the splendid ribbon and bow it deserves. Recorded live at the Faith ...

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Lecrae – Church Clothes 3

Lecrae Church Clothes 3 Reach Records www.lecrae.com By Bob Marovich Leave it to Lecrae to put out a mixtape as a place holder—or an appetite whetter—until his new album is released, and it soars to the top of the Billboard chart. That demonstrates his crossover appeal in a hip hop market that knows no subgenre boundaries: if it’s good, it’s good. If it’s relevant, even better. Church Clothes 3 is good and relevant. It’s first three selections, in fact, are engaging kaleidoscopes of incisive rails against inequality and injustice in all of its forms. Lecrae points the finger at everyone ...

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Bishop Andrew Merritt & the Straight Gate Mass Choir – Saturate Us

Bishop Andrew Merritt & The Straight Gate Mass Choir Saturate Us Bajada Records (release date: December 22, 2015) www.saturateus.com By Bob Marovich The praise and worship choir, which one could argue was pioneered in the 1980s by Carol Cymbala and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, tempers the soul-stirring sounds of the gospel choir by employing fewer vocal acrobatics and blue notes, but maintaining the latter’s thunderous fervor. This choral style is ubiquitous in gospel music these days, but Detroit’s Straight Gate Mass Choir, under the leadership of Bishop Andrew Merritt, was among the first to bring it into the urban church. Making records ...

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Virtue – Fearless

Virtue Fearless Mixed Bag/eOne New York (release date: February 26, 2016) www.virtuegirls3.com By Bob Marovich Norma Desmond declared in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard: “I hate that word [comeback]. It’s a return.” With Trin-i-tee 5:7 in suspend mode and Mary Mary doing solo projects, it’s a good time for the sister trio Virtue to return (thanks, Norma). After an extended hiatus, the Dove Award-winning and GRAMMY Award- and Stellar Award-nominated group released their seventh studio album, Fearless, on Friday. Karima Kibble, Ebony Holland, and Heather Martin augment their characteristically sunny, breezy and optimistic outlook with assertive Urban Contemporary licks, electrified harmonies, and ...

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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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