CDs

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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Jeanette Jones – Dreams All Come True

Jeanette Jones Dreams All Come True Playback Records (release date: May 19, 2017) www.playbackrecords.net By Bob Marovich The title of Playback’s compilation of every known secular and sacred solo recording by San Francisco singer Jeanette Jones is deliberately ironic. All the more so in that Jones’ beautifully-sung ballad, “Dreams All Come True,” which gives the album its title, was recorded in 1968 but did not see the light of day until 2000. As Alec Palao’s well-crafted and sympathetic essay for this compilation suggests, whatever career aspirations the comely alto may have had seemed never to materialize, despite her obvious vocal talent. So one released pop single ...

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CASS: Genesis – Second Season

CASS Genesis – Second Season http://officialcass.com By Bob Marovich Genesis – Second Season is the debut full-length solo album for New Zealand-based Christian singer/producer CASS, aka Cassandra Kanda. It follows on the heels of the Season 1 EP she produced to test the waters of recorded music ministry while completing a three-year church internship. To support her unpretentious lyrics of praise and love for God, CASS leaps more confidently into the pool of hook-laden, beat-built pop music than most gospel artists dare. Viscous keyboards burble in space. Electronic riffs transition into Cinemascope-sized blossoms. Beats, hooks, riffs, and rhythmic lyric lines come ...

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Adam Everett – If You Are Weary

Adam Everett If You Are Weary Polytone Records (release date: May 11, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/adameverett By Bob Marovich If John Hiatt made a gospel album, it would sound like Adam Everett’s If You Are Weary. This eight-track collection of hymns and newly-composed songs is the product of a new breed of young alt-gospel artists such as the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers (who opened for Everett’s album release party), Liz Vice, and Eli “The Paperboy” Reed. Together, they are taking to church the Americana soul-country-rock melange rekindled by the Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, and Neko Case (who has covered some gospel on ...

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