Reviews

Trish Standley – No One Else

Trish Standley No One Else Jan’s Joy Ministries (2016) www.trishstandley.com By Bob Marovich The starting salvo of gospel singer and fashionista Trish Standley’s new album, No One Else, is refreshing in its simplicity. There are no anthemic trumpeting synths, no declarative shouts of “C‘mon and put your hands together,” both of which introduce too many gospel albums these days. Instead, Standley’s opener, “Again I Worship,” is a peaceful piano-dominated praiser that gives her room to exercise her girlish soprano. Reprising the airy introduction is the title track, written by Tiffanie Barnes, with its sweetly sung melody and humble plaudits to ...

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Rick Stephenson – My Everything

Rick Stephenson My Everything N-Siteful Music (release date: August 1, 2016) www.rickstephensonmusic.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Rick Stephenson is no stranger to the recording studio. My Everything represents his latest album in at least four full-length CDs in his career. The new album contains ten radio-sized and pleasantly rendered pieces by Stephenson, a Johnson Creek, Wisconsin-based artist whose songwriting technique suggests he is an astute student of the pop song. Indeed, as a youth, Stephenson spent a great deal of time listening to Top 40 radio, and it shows.  The self-professed “Pop Gospel Musician-ary” links lyrics of faith and gratitude ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 7, 2016

“Escaped to Tell” Blanche McAllister-Dykes From the Escaped To Tell Movie Soundtrack www.escapedtotell.com Sung by Blanche McAllister-Dykes, whose vocal vulnerability gives the song the feel of a church testimony, “Escaped to Tell” is the title track of a Christian-themed film by songwriter and author, Nefateri Smalls, who co-wrote the song with Chad Chambers. An alumna of Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers, McAllister-Dykes builds from victim to victorious to advocate through a steadily building passion that is echoed by her background vocalists. By the conclusion, she is shouting praises to God for bringing her through the emotional pain of domestic violence ...

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Faithful Connection – Thank You

Faithful Connection Thank You (2015) www.faithfulconnection09.com By Bob Marovich Named Quartet CD of the Year at the 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards, Thank You is a ten-track album by Faithful Connection that blends traditional gospel quartet singing with modern musicianship. The Fredericksburg, Virginia, group pays homage to Tidewater quartet history through its tight harmonies that emphasize the mid-range versus high tenor or bass. The quartet’s harmonies are especially prominent on the title track and on “Come Too Far,” which opens with the classic open guitar strum and features a warbling organ as well as hard singing from guest lead James H. ...

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Belle Carmen – Love, Dreams & the Space Between

Belle Carmen Love, Dreams & the Space Between Chrispel Records (2016) www.bellecarmensplace.com By Bob Marovich Part song, part spoken word, and part instrumental, Belle Carmen’s Love, Dreams & the Space Between chronicles the ebbs and flows of her love story with Jesus Christ. Unlike some sacred love songs, there is no ambiguity about the object of Belle’s love focus. It’s Jesus, who is perfect.  She (and by extension, we), the imperfect and flawed, struggles to maintain her part of the bargain. At the same time, Belle wants to do better, and she articulates this in song on “Love You Right” and “Good ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 1, 2016

“In Due Season” Jennifer Myles (2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/jennifermyles2 Bronx-born Jennifer Myles and her team of musicians and singers tear it up on her debut single, “In Due Season.” Fueled by a frenetic pace, “In Due Season” is a romping reminder that although we may wait for our breakthrough for what seems like a lifetime, make no mistake: it is on its way. He will. She’s a witness. Now living in Decatur, Georgia, and assisting the Beulah Missionary Baptist Church music ministry, Myles has served as background vocalist for a parade of popular gospel artists. She is now intent on developing her ...

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Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900

Various Artists Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900 Archeophone Records (release date: September 30, 2016) www.archeophone.com By Bob Marovich There is something quite thrilling about hearing voices singing and speaking from more than a century ago. Those crackly, trebly vowels and consonants, like faraway voices over an old telephone, preserved on cylinder and discs like insects in amber, are just as hauntingly fascinating today as they must have been rousing for those who listened to them in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hearing the voices of historic figures on record brings them back to life. Richard Martin and ...

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Candi Staton – It’s Time to Be Free

Candi Staton It’s Time to Be Free Beracah Records (release date: July 22, 2016) www.candi-staton.com By Bob Marovich Like Mavis Staples, Canzetta “Candi” Staton made her professional music debut in the 1950s as a member of a gospel group, and later broadened her reach into popular music by employing Muscle Shoals rhythm sections. The two women, born less than a year apart, have been recharging their careers with albums that channel a wisdom and experience as evident in the muskiness of their voices as in the song lyrics. It’s Time to Be Free, Staton’s first gospel album since 2008’s I Will ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 24, 2016

“Be Still” Riverside SDA Choir feat. Lecresia Campbell From The Riverside Project: Music & Devotion (2016) www.RiversideNashville.org “Declare Your Name” is the initial single from Riverside Seventh Day Adventist Nashville’s The Riverside Project, a two-CD music and spoken word release. But another selection, “Be Still,” is significant because it may be the final recorded performance by gospel singer Lecresia Campbell. Campbell, who passed away on September 29 of this year, shines on this slow burner, which puts the language of Psalms 46:10 in the vernacular (“stop worrying and struggling, questioning and fretting” instead of “cease striving”). She moans, shouts, flips ...

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Rev. Clay Evans & the Ship – What A Legacy

Rev. Clay Evans & the Ship What a Legacy Rev. Clay Evans Heritage Series (2016) By Bob Marovich “Give me my flowers while I am still here,” the Consolers instructed in 1955, “so I can see the beauty that they bring.” What a Legacy, a collection of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir tracks never before released on CD, is one way a legion of friends and fans are giving their flowers to the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans, who turned 91 this year: by preserving some of the classic musical moments of Fellowship, aka “The Ship,” the church he founded in ...

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