CDs

Nichole Nordeman – Every Mile Mattered

Nichole Nordeman Every Mile Mattered Sparrow Records / Capitol CMG Label Group www.sparrowrecords.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman has a lot to say in her new album, Every Mile Mattered, and we need to hear it. In a hauntingly beautiful voice that evokes contemporary folk artists Beth Nielsen Chapman and Alice Peacock, Nordeman offers a theology stripped of fiats and thou shalts. For her, it’s simple. Jesus is everywhere, at all times, and in every moment of our lives.  For example, in “You’re Here,” Nordeman hears God saying that “the only invitation that you need, is the very ...

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Michelle David – The Gospel Sessions Volume 2

Michelle David The Gospel Sessions Vol. 2 Excelsior Recordings www.excelsior-recordings.com By Bob Marovich Ironically, Michelle David’s The Gospel Sessions Volume 2 has such deep roots in Americana music that it probably would never be released by a U.S.-based gospel label. The current clamor for big and bold gospel singing and stadium-sized musicianship has eclipsed the more subtle, but no less soulful, sacred sounds and nuanced artistry of singers like Liz Vice and, as she demonstrates on this album, Michelle David. David, born and educated in New York and living in Holland since 1994, reunites with multi-instrumentalists Onno Smit, Toon Oomen, and ...

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Royce Lovett – Love & Other Dreams

Royce Lovett Love & Other Dreams Motown Gospel (release date: July 14, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Royce Lovett is one of the most distinctive voices on the Motown Gospel roster. Not surprisingly, his new album, Love & Other Dreams, is as artistically unpredictable as its creator. The guitar-playing Tallahassee, Florida, singer-songwriter splashes a palette of neo-soul on coded messages about survival in modern society. The album feels like a somnambulant journey of a soul gasping, as if drowning, for the oxygen of freedom. Where can lung-expanding oxygen be found?  Lovett answers on the album’s hypnotic current single, “Up for Love:” it’s in the clouds, where there are ...

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Devin Williams – We Are Forever Yours (EP)

Devin Williams We Are Forever Yours (EP) Independent: (release date: August 4, 2017) www.devinw.com By Bob Marovich The power of love, both given and received, is at the center of We Are Forever Yours, the latest release by worship leader and six-time Billboard Top 30-charting Christian artist Devin Williams. Nowhere is this negotiation more explicit than on the current single, “Hear Our Hearts Sing.” Interceding on behalf of an inferred congregation on this vibrant song of corporate worship, Williams offers God the congregation’s (and his) collective hearts. But this is not a one-way proposition; in return, God will bestow peace, ...

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Hi-Lite Real: Moral Victories

Hi-Lite Real Moral Victories Hi-Lite Life Music (2016) http://hilitereal.com       By Bob Marovich Moral Victories, the latest CD by Atlanta-based Christian Hip Hop artist Hi-Lite Real (born Dwayne Dickey), is as aspirational as it is inspirational. Employing sports analogies for some of his selections, Hi-Lite Real pumps up his motivation while evangelizing to those caught between the street life and the blessed life. “Keep that Xbox,” he spits on “Number 1 Contender,” because saving souls is no game. He’s got his “eyes on the prize” and will work, even through “a torn ACL,” if need be. During “Jungle,” ...

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Natasha Owens – We Will Rise

Natasha Owens We Will Rise Maharlow Records (release date: July 7, 2017) http://natashaowensmusic.com By Bob Marovich Sometimes new beginnings flower from the most terrible tragedies. That was the case for Natasha Owens. Seven years ago, her father was cleaning a gun when it misfired, killing him at age 58. In the midst of her grieving, Owens was invited to serve as her church’s worship minister. She wrote songs for her church to sing. Through music ministry, she found that the more she poured into the congregation, the more she got back.  A trip to the recording studio to memorialize her songs produced ...

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Derrick “Doc” Pearson – I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage

Derrick “Doc” Pearson I Still Do: Songs for a Biblical Marriage I AM Music Company (release date: April 7, 2017) www.iammusiccompany.com By Bob Marovich Love songs have become quite popular in gospel music. Perchance inspired by Kim Burrell’s 2011 The Love Album, or Fred Hammond’s 2012 2-CD release, God, Love, and Romance, several artists have written and recorded songs about Bible-based love. Some even make for good wedding ceremony material. One of the most popular essays on the Journal of Gospel Music is a list of gospel songs fit for a marriage ceremony. I Still Do, Derrick “Doc” Pearson’s new collection of songs about marriage, ...

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Jermaine Dolly – The Dolly Express

Jermaine Dolly The Dolly Express DarkChild Gospel / By Any Means Necessary LLC (release date: June 9, 2017)                 By Bob Marovich The Dolly Express, the main conceit of Jermaine Dolly’s debut full-length album of the same name, bears similarity to the storied Gospel Train, the subject of old hymns, with a couple important exceptions. First, while only the saved are welcome on board the Gospel Train, Dolly’s locomotive invites everyone on this free trip. And second, the conductor is not Jesus but Dolly himself. His duty, like a good Christian, is to lead his ...

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Bigger Than Me – Le’Andria

Bigger Than Me Le’Andria RCA Inspiration (release date: July 21, 2017) By Bob Marovich Bigger Than Me, Le’Andria Johnson’s fifth album, is her best album since her 2011 debut, the chart-topping Music World Gospel release, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson. Best because the songs, for the first time since Awakening, feel right for her, melodically and lyrically. This album is direct and honest rather than focused on inspirational messages with an undercurrent of crossover aspiration. Song lyrics like “I’ve tried every shortcut” and have “gone through hell” (“Come Through”) and “I took on way too much…now I have to pay the cost” ...

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Sherwin Gardner – Greater

Sherwin Gardner Greater Flow Masters / Tyscot Records (global release: May 26, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Those who follow my reviews know I’m not typically sold on an album’s selected single, and often feel other tracks on the CD are far stronger. But “Because of You,” the first American single from Sherwin Gardner’s album Greater, deserves to be the one. I couldn’t get the melody and lyrics out of my head 24 hours after listening to it. Of the live and studio versions of “Because of You,” both offered on the CD, I prefer the live version. Here, the song’s lyrical apex, ...

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