Reviews

“Won’t He Do It” – The Beard Sisters

“Won’t He Do It” The Beard Sisters DBJ Entertainment (release date: November 15, 2016) www.thebeardsisters.com By Bob Marovich The Beard Sisters of Memphis (Angela, Latonya, and April) are a harmony trio. They sound inspired by Chicago’s Brown Sisters, or a younger version of the Clark Sisters, because of their sassy vocals, multifaceted rhythms, complex vocal blend, and sunny songs of praise and worship. On their soulfully retro-sounding single, “Won’t He Do It,” the trio celebrates God’s willingness to do everything for His people. The song’s hook is the reiterative freefall from a frenetic chorus of “Won’t He Do It” into a breezy jazz ...

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Christon Gray – Clear the Heir

Christon Gray Clear the Heir Fo Yo Soul/Essential Sound/RCA Inspiration (Sony Music) (release date: October 19, 2018) www.christongray.com By Bob Marovich Christon Gray has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to challenging the status quo of Christian music in style, arrangement, and lyric content. On Clear the Heir, his latest full-length offering, Gray drives forward the autobiographical narrative he began on his earlier releases with a frothy fusion of hip hop, rap, dramatic recitations, and even symphonic strings. Clear the Heir also contains some of Gray’s most radio-friendly work to date. The album’s provocative lyrics catch listeners up on the dramatic episodes in ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 8, 2018

“God Is Doing It” Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi feat. C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: October 5, 2018) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich “God Is Doing It” is Ernest Billups & the Tribe of Levi’s finest single to date. This slow burner with a dramatic melody features a passionate vocal assist from C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence (“I’ve Got the Victory”), who gets downright evangelistic by the vamp as she duets with Billups, who also serves as the songwriter and producer. Like some of the best songs in any genre, “God Is Doing It” was composed during a period ...

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Soul Don’t Worry: Black Gospel During the Civil Rights Era, 1953-1967

Various Artists Soul Don’t Worry! Black Gospel During the Civil Rights Era, 1953-1967 NarroWay Records (release date: September 21, 2018) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Soul Don’t Worry is the most ambitious project to date for NarroWay / Gospel Friend, the Sweden-based gospel reissue operation headed by producer Per Notini. In the past, Notini has focused on chronicling individual artists and labels, but this time he has taken on an entire era’s worth of gospel music. And not just any era, but one of the most significant of the twentieth century: the fight for civil rights in America. Some listeners might ...

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“The Man” – Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson

“The Man” Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson From the CD Keep Pushin’ Shanachie / SRT Entertainment www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Quartet maven Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson’s latest single, “The Man,” wraps a story about a man seeking salvation in smooth soul harmonies that hearken back to ‘70s quartet singing. Johnson’s vocal shifts from punchy and straightforward to excited shouting as he witnesses the man transition from sinner to saved. Lots of confident swagger loaded into this one. The single follows “Keep Pushin’,” the initial single and title track of Johnson’s latest offering on Shanachie / SRT Entertainment.

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“Reset” – Jonathan J. Wimbush

“Reset” Jonathan J. Wimbush From The Calling (EP) www.jonathanjwimbush.com By Bob Marovich Christian urban contemporary artist Jonathan J. Wimbush rode “Reset” and The Calling EP from which it came through the 2018 Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer. He garnered three statues in the process. To a taffy-like gait of burbling electronica and background vocals, Wimbush rues on “Reset” that he wishes there were a magic button or magic potion to help him get his life back in order (he was inspired in part by the iconic Staples’ “Easy” button). In the bridge, he unveils what that reset is: prayer. Watching the ...

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“Right Now’s the Right Time for Jesus” – Steven Cermele

“Right Now’s the Right Time for Jesus” Steven Cermele From the SLC Records album HealThy Heart Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Culled from his HealThy Heart album, Steve Cermele’s single, “Right Now’s the Right Time for Jesus,” is a southern gospel track that, as I mentioned in my album review, “is ideal for congregational singing and, of all the songs on the album, wins Most Likely to Be Placed in a Hymnbook.” The hymn confirms the veteran singer and musician’s decision a decade ago to focus on Christian music. He should write more songs in this vein.  I could hear them ...

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All Above North – How Great It Is To Be Broken

All Above North How Great It Is To Be Broken Northwest Records (2017) www.allabovenorth.com By Bob Marovich If Joy Division had made a Christian album, it might sound like How Great It Is To Be Broken. All Above North’s latest album is equal parts retro ‘80s and current-day EDM. Prayerful conversations with God—some cheerful, some expressing anxiety—receive ample helpings of electric confetti, at times bright and cheerful and at other times intense and dramatic. And thank God, the synth sounds like a synth and not like an artificial brass section or violins. From Sydney, Australia, the Christian indie rock band All Above ...

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Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed): Lord Give Me Strength

Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed) Lord Give Me Strength: Early Recordings 1952-1964 Gospel Friend Records (release date: September 21, 2018) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Perhaps one reason Professor Harold Boggs is not as well remembered, or as appreciated, as his golden era contemporaries is his penchant for copying their sound. Seemingly bereft of a distinctive style of his own, Boggs, a blind singer, emulated the prevailing sound of gospel music. In other words, listening to Boggs on Per Notini’s superb compilation of the blind singer’s initial recordings is a gospel music history lesson in audio. You hear the influence of the expansive-voiced ...

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Jamie Lee Rake Reviews Milwaukee Quartet Program

Originally written for publication in online contemporary Christian and gospel music magazine The Phantom Tollbooth (http://www.tollbooth.org/) Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s Lisa Knowles & The Brown Singers The Golden Bells The Christland Singers The Fabulous Luckett Brothers Tiffany Terry P. Wilson & Pure Worship Abundant Faith Church of Integrity, Milwaukee, WI 15 September 2018 An argument could be made that Lee Williams shouldn’t have been on the platform. Lord knows, the lanky elder statesman of traditional male quartet soul gospel, with his distinguished salt-and-pepper hair, once a paragon of nigh stoic cool with an authoritative baritone that could sound like ...

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