CDs

The Many – Love > Fear

The Many Love > Fear Plural Guild (release date: November 15, 2019) www.themanyarehere.com By Bob Marovich The Many is a multicultural vocal group based in Chicago and comprised of the talents of Darren Calhoun, Hannah Rand, and Leslie Michele. On their latest release, Love > Fear, they offer their distinctive brand of relaxed Christian pop, complete with warbling organ, tinkling electric piano, a solid rhythm section, and sugary sweet harmonies. As on the group’s 2017 album, All Belong Here, love is the focus of this collection. In “Extravagant Love,” for example, love is abundant and changes everything. On the title ...

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Chip Bailey – The Music in Me

Chip Bailey The Music in Me ABBII Music (release date: April 20, 2019) www.officialchipbailey.com By Bob Marovich Up to this point, Anthony “Chip” Bailey” has been a singer, musician, songwriter, and composer for other gospel artists. In his debut recording, The Music in Me, Bailey proves his own mettle in the spotlight, singing his own songs. Backed by a team of effective vocalists, a chugging rhythm section, and blasts of brass, Bailey delivers full-bodied Rhythm & Praise selections to the live recording audience that gathered at the Resurrection Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Early tracks “I’m Excited” and “Rejoice” pair funky ...

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Jonathan Butler – Christmas Together

Jonathan Butler Christmas Together Artistry Music / Mack Avenue Music Group (release date: October 4, 2019) www.mackavenue.com By Bob Marovich Christmas Together is the second holiday-themed album for singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Butler, one that he recorded and mixed in his home studio in Southern California. Whenever the album isn’t offering up dreamy instrumental arrangements of classic Christmas carols by some of smooth jazz’s best-known musicians, it is evoking the soulfulness of Stevie Wonder. You hear Wonder’s frictionless resonance in Butler’s lead vocals on “Winter Wonderland” (no pun intended) and “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel.” “Mary Did You Know,” ...

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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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