CDs

Stryper – Fallen

Stryper Fallen Frontiers Music srl (release date: October 16, 2015) www.stryper.com By Bob Marovich For Christians about to rock, we salute you. Immediately following the Gothic a cappella harmonies that open Fallen, Stryper’s eleventh full-length original album, the four-man Christian metal band rock relentlessly until the CD screeches to a stop some fifty minutes later.  Guitars thrash, gnash, and gnarl, drums and bass craft complex rhythmic shapes, and Michael Sweet lofts soaring cries and glass-shattering high notes into the heavens. The godfathers of Christian metal deliver the goods on every track of Fallen. “Yahweh,” written with Clint Lowery of Sevendust and ...

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Joyful Gospel – We’ve Got a River to Cross

Joyful Gospel We’ve Got a River to Cross Rampart Street Music www.rampartstreetmusic.com By Bob Marovich Although Joyful Gospel gets top billing, the choir we hear on the album We’ve Got a River to Cross, released on the New Orleans-based label Rampart Street Music, is actually a blend of choral ensembles. More specifically, it is a combination of the group Joyful and the Spirit of New Orleans Choir, which itself is a conglomeration of members of gospel groups that work with Jamalar Booking Agency in New Orleans. Not a shouting group by any means, this combined choral group sings with studied ...

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Carla Martin – One Word

Carla Martin One Word The Cloud Music (2014) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/carlamartin1 By Bob Marovich Although Carla Martin has been singing for the better part of ten years, One Word is her debut album. Martin possesses a pleasant, power pop alto with a tight vibrato and the ability to get down into Toni Braxton’s lowest register when necessary. All songs on the CD are original compositions written by Martin and her producer, Larry Wilson.  Although the album opens and closes with high-energy praise songs energized by thumping drums, roaring guitars, and waves of electronica, Martin shines best on the tracks in the middle ...

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Tonya Lewis-Taylor: Delayed But Not Denied

Tonya Lewis-Taylor Delayed but Not Denied EARS Entertainment Group (2014) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich Tonya Lewis-Taylor may be the most generous gospel artist when it comes to sharing the microphone with others. On her mostly live debut solo CD, Delayed but Not Denied, the former background singer for pop artists and one-time publicist for Roc-a-Fella Records (Jay Z, Kanye West) solicits solo turns from each background vocalist, her children, her youngest (Jaden), her mother, and, for all I know, even total strangers. Most of the solos occur during extended pieces “The Great I Am” and especially during the twelve-plus-minute “Holding ...

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Alexis Spight – Dear Diary

Alexis Spight Dear Diary Uncle G Records / eOne Music (2015) www.unclegpromo.com By Bob Marovich On the opening track of her new album, Dear Diary, the blazingly red haired Alexis Spight declares she comes from the old church and commences to sing a medley of congregation classics as an “old school song with a new school twang.” From there, however, Dear Diary offers mostly new school twang, with modern beats and instrumentation, flashes and chortles of electronica, and percussive piano quarter notes as intros on a few tracks. The instrumentation, in fact, is as much of a presence on the ...

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Appointed2 – This Journey

Appointed2 This Journey (2014) www.appointed2.com By Bob Marovich Husband-and-wife music evangelists Randy and Amy Nichols are part of a tradition going back nearly a century, and perhaps longer. The difference is that back in the day, evangelists sang and played stringed instruments on street corners. The Nichols’s, known as Appointed2, perform at pulpits and on stages, just as they did at the recent Rhythm of Gospel Awards, where they took home two honors, including CCM Artist of the Year. Their ten-track, thirty-minute album This Journey provides a flavor for Appointed2’s down home evangelism. Again, like their forebears, Randy and Amy ...

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Sue Roseberry – Magnificent God

Sue Roseberry Magnificent God (2013) www.sueroseberry.com By Bob Marovich The notes from the Hammond B3 sounded like Reveille in the morning fog. The organ’s beckoning warble at the opening of track six, “I’m Blessed,” was a sign that we were about to hear the “Mama Sue” Roseberry of BET Sunday Best fame, the solid singer who successfully portrayed her inspiration, Mahalia Jackson, on the stage. That’s not to take away from the handful of songs preceding “I’m Blessed” on Roseberry’s live album, Magnificent God, recorded at the 2013 Gospel Music Workshop of America Board Meeting. They are professionally produced expressions ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Heavenly Fire

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Heavenly Fire Ba Da Bing (release date: August 7, 2015) www.ergospelsingers.com By Bob Marovich What originated as a group of friends jamming on old gospel songs distilled into the five-member Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. The Los Angeles group’s full-length debut, Heavenly Fire, declares their earthy conviction for true living through details of personal struggles and Bible tales that sound ripped from the pages of William Faulkner. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers blend alt-country, rockabilly, and gospel into a mix somewhere between Wilco, Neko Case, and the Staple Singers. At the same time, the group’s expansive, extroverted harmonies, fronted by ...

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Kevin Riley – Restored for Worship

Kevin Riley Restored for Worship Kevin Riley Music (release date: July 21, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/kevinriley7 By Bob Marovich What strikes you upon hearing Kevin Riley’s new album, Restored for Worship, is how well the project would work as an Easter cantata. Literally beginning at the beginning, with dramatically-spoken snippets from early Genesis during the first of the Little Rock, Arkansas’ singer-songwriter’s several interludes, Restored for Worship follows the march of time from creation and the dawn of humanity to Jesus’s passion, resurrection, ascension, and the first Pentecost. Riley uses this construct to show how the “plan of redemption” that began before creation ...

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Jonathan McReynolds – Life Music: Stage Two

Jonathan McReynolds Life Music: Stage Two eOne/Tehillah Music Group (release date: September 18, 2015) www.jonathanmcreynolds.com By Bob Marovich Life Music: Stage Two couldn’t be a better showcase for Jonathan McReynolds. The follow-up album to the 26-year-old singer-songwriter-musician’s 2012 debut, Life Music, Stage Two is the musical manifestation of his honest and spiritually grounded approach to dealing with the vicissitudes of daily life. The Chicago-born McReynolds is one of the few gospel solo artists who plays acoustic guitar. His mellow blend of acoustic neo-soul with churchy conviction may be somewhat novel today, but it mirrors the intimacy of his lyrics, which feel like ...

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