Reviews

The Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels in the Band

The Jewell Gospel Trio Many Little Angels in the Band NarroWay Records (release date: October 18, 2019) www.gospelfriend.se By Bob Marovich (as originally featured in Living Blues magazine) Any discourse on music of the Church of the Living God, Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Jewell Dominion typically turns to its sacred steel tradition with only incidental mention of the singing that takes place within denominational walls. Filling this void is Many Little Angels in the Band, NarroWay’s superb survey of the Jewell Gospel Trio, a female group from Nashville, Tennessee, raised in this African American Pentecostal sect. The Jewell ...

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“Psalms 34” – Chris Wesley & Undignified Praise, feat. Dana Hemphill

“Psalms 34” Chris Wesley & Undignified Praise, feat. Dana Hemphill Undignified Music (release date: April 5, 2019) www.undignifiedpraise.com By Bob Marovich Pastor Chris Wesley plays the role of exhorter as vocalist Dana Hemphill fronts Undignified Praise on this reading of “Psalms 34.” Written by Paul Shepherd and Tramaul Love, and arranged by Patrick Wright, Roy Cotton, and Wesley, this second single by Wesley and UDP is a praise song that improvises on the line, “I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Its simple structure and melody are suited for a worship ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 2, 2019

“Take Your Burdens” Chrystal Rucker From the forthcoming album Graced for This www.habakkukmusic.com By Bob Marovich Chrystal Rucker is one of the finest gospel singers today. Whether on her own or as a featured vocalist, she can turn a good gospel song into a great one. That’s what she does with “Take Your Burdens,” a conventional song of hope and encouragement written and produced by Asaph Ward. The single gets full-barrel Chrystal. She starts out by giving the song a melodic reading, then opens up her arsenal of growls, squalls, falsetto notes, leaving the listener thoroughly bedazzled by the end. ...

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“I Choose You” – Marjane’

“I Choose You” Marjane’ J Jane Music (release date: September 19, 2019) www.marjanemusic.com By Bob Marovich Many gospel music enthusiasts know Marjane’ (pron. Mar-ja-nay) from her many awards appearances, but the Journal of Gospel Music keyed in on her vocal talent ten years ago with the release of her sophomore album, Won’t Let Go. “I Choose You,” Marjane’s latest single, is the latest example of her breezy, quiet storm style of sacred music. She expresses her love for God in a chill ‘90s retro soul mode complete with smooth BGVs and a deliberately understated rhythm section, synth, and electric piano. ...

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Peg Luke – Psalm Space

Peg Luke Psalm Space Peg Luke’s Cool Projects Records / New Day Christian Distributors (release date: August 16, 2019) www.psalmspace.com By Bob Marovich Over about a two-year period, flutist and composer Peg Luke created the oratorio Psalm Space from her favorite Psalms, hymns, and prayers. In addition to applying her classical music background—Luke’s flute recitals have sold out Carnegie Hall twelve times—she adopts the French Taize model for her methodology. This means restful, repetitive melodies delivered in a hypnotic chant-like manner. Like Taize, Psalm Space is orchestral music for a candlelit church, designed to lower blood pressure and allow the ...

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“Oh How Good It Is” – Byron Cage

“Oh How Good It Is” Byron Cage From the Malaco / AIR Release Isolation (release date: September 27, 2019) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Byron Cage, designated the Prince of Praise for helping popularize Praise & Worship music in African American churches, opens his new single, the cheerful “Oh How Good It Is,” with a declaration of praise. He wants to be “in the presence of the King”—so much so that it makes him want to shout, holler, and throw up his hands. Not out of anger and frustration, like Marvin Gaye, but out of joy and gratitude. Halfway through the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 23, 2019

“I Know He’s Been Good” Linda Sanders Higher Praise Records (2019) By Bob Marovich You can take the woman out of the quartet, but you cannot take the quartet out of the woman. In the case of Linda Sanders, that’s a good thing. After many years of singing gospel quartet with a number of groups, most notably the Zion Travelers of East St. Louis, and about a year providing lead vocals for a recording group called De’Vine, Sanders of St. Louis has gone solo. Her debut single, “I Know He’s Been Good” has all the components of quartet singing. Backed ...

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William McDowell – The Cry: A Live Worship Experience

William McDowell The Cry: A Live Worship Experience Integrity Music (release date: September 20, 2019) www.WilliamMcDowellMusic.com By Bob Marovich I’ve always felt that Praise & Worship music ought to be recorded live. Since it comes out of the worship experience, why not capture it in this same environment? That’s what William McDowell has done with The Cry: A Live Worship Experience. The advent of digital distribution has made possible an album like this, with a total of eighteen tracks that provide more than two hours of singing and instrumental and spoken word interludes. The album, McDowell’s sixth, was recorded not ...

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I Made It Out – John P. Kee

John P. Kee I Made It Out Entertainment One Music (release date: September 13, 2019) www.eOneMusic.com By Bob Marovich In little more than a generation, Pastor John P. Kee has gone from the new kid on the block to the Prince of Gospel Music, a leading light whose name is frequently invoked by the current generation of gospel artists.as an inspiration. I Made It Out is Kee’s first album for Entertainment One since joining the label earlier this year. It’s also his first release since 2015’s Level Next. Those who grew up on Pastor Kee with the New Life Community ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 16, 2019

“I Can Do Anything” Joanna Hale-McGill McGill Music Group (release date: June 22, 2019) From the CD New Sound, Same God Vol. 1 www.JoannaHaleMcGill.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Joanna Hale-McGill has a keen ear for song hooks. On “I Can Do Anything,” the praise & worship leader of His Will Worship Center in Slidell, Louisiana, embeds memorable hooks in the lyrics, in the music, in the bits of electronica, in the overall arrangement, and sometimes even in the spaces between. The song is an anthem of heaven-bestowed empowerment bathed in a bubbly, shoulder-shaking vibe and driven by insistent eighth notes ...

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