Reviews

“Serve” – The Divine Souls

“Serve” The Divine Souls MCI Music Group Radio servicing: Darrell Jay Jones (darrell@darrelljayjones.com) The message on “Serve” is uncomplicated and well-trodden—the Divine Souls are so grateful for God’s unchanging hands that they are 100 percent committed to serving Him. It’s the soulful vocalizing, especially by the lead singer, Michael Bembo, which sells the single.  The song’s long drawl of an arrangement, the perpetually warbling organ, and the quartet’s dropping to a whisper by the conclusion, evoke the traditional gospel soul style of artists such as the Gospel Four and the Pilgrim Jubilees. From El Paso, Texas, the Divine Souls were ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 7, 2016

“In the Hands of the Carpenter” Paula and Angie Lamon Records www.paulaandangiemusic.com With bluesier guitar licks, a funky rhythm, and a more soulful choir of BGVs than you typically hear in mainstream gospel, Paula and Angie’s “In the Hands of the Carpenter” calls on the Heavenly Carpenter to “tear down the walls in our heart” and fix us good: “Let Him change you, rearrange you, do what He wants to do.” “I’m a real fixer-upper,” the mother-daughter duo sings, and the construction analogies keep going from there. Refreshingly old-school in a Muscle Shoals sort of way. Paula Greene and Angie ...

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Kalind Haynes – “One Angel Short”

Kalind Haynes “One Angel Short” www.cdbaby.com/artist/KalindHaynes At six foot, eight inches tall, Kalind Haynes of south suburban Chicago stands out physically. He also stands out vocally. An alumnus of BET Sunday Best, where he made it to the top ten in 2009, Haynes was praised by Tina Campbell of Mary Mary for his clean and smooth delivery. On “One Angel Short,” Haynes delivers Donald Smith’s pop-inspirational love ballad in that clean and smooth delivery, a silky touch reminiscent of Luther Vandross and Peabo Bryson. The song’s premise? To quote Tavares: Heaven must be missing an angel: she is here on earth, ...

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Bishop Andrew Merritt & the Straight Gate Mass Choir – Saturate Us

Bishop Andrew Merritt & The Straight Gate Mass Choir Saturate Us Bajada Records (release date: December 22, 2015) www.saturateus.com By Bob Marovich The praise and worship choir, which one could argue was pioneered in the 1980s by Carol Cymbala and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, tempers the soul-stirring sounds of the gospel choir by employing fewer vocal acrobatics and blue notes, but maintaining the latter’s thunderous fervor. This choral style is ubiquitous in gospel music these days, but Detroit’s Straight Gate Mass Choir, under the leadership of Bishop Andrew Merritt, was among the first to bring it into the urban church. Making records ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 1, 2016

“More Than a Friend” Deon Robertson From the forthcoming CD Simply Deon www.deonrobertson.com Introduced by a self-assuredly chirping organ, Deon Robertson’s churchy “More Than a Friend” is a bluesy gospel outing that riffs on Jesus’s many life-giving characteristics. Receiving strong support from a choir of treble voices, Robertson improvises by launching melismatic runs, moaning, shouting, and foisting glissandos up and down the stave. As far as the song’s meaning, that is best heard coming from Robertson himself: “My new single, ‘More Than A Friend,’ was written by James Reed and became a true testament to my life when I was ...

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Virtue – Fearless

Virtue Fearless Mixed Bag/eOne New York (release date: February 26, 2016) www.virtuegirls3.com By Bob Marovich Norma Desmond declared in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard: “I hate that word [comeback]. It’s a return.” With Trin-i-tee 5:7 in suspend mode and Mary Mary doing solo projects, it’s a good time for the sister trio Virtue to return (thanks, Norma). After an extended hiatus, the Dove Award-winning and GRAMMY Award- and Stellar Award-nominated group released their seventh studio album, Fearless, on Friday. Karima Kibble, Ebony Holland, and Heather Martin augment their characteristically sunny, breezy and optimistic outlook with assertive Urban Contemporary licks, electrified harmonies, and ...

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“Let It All Go” – Anthony Faulkner feat. Nikki Potts

“Let It All Go” Anthony Faulkner feat. Nikki Potts 7th Chapter Music (2015) http://afaulkner.com/ Like a gentler James Fortune, internationally-renowned singer Anthony Faulkner introduces his new single, “Let It All Go,” with a spoken admonition to let go your cares and cast them on God during times of trouble. From there, he joins L. A. Mass Choir alumna and Kurt Carr Singer Nikki Potts on an extended sung improvisation on the theme. Potts’s extroverted singing, which takes zero-to-sixty flights into a higher register during the song’s apex, contrasts well with Faulkner’s smooth, even delivery and the straightforward flow of the ...

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Holly Ann – Light and Bloom

Holly Ann Light and Bloom Deeper Well Records (release date: January 13, 2016) www.deeper-well.com By Bob Marovich Last year, Liz Vice demonstrated that some of the best spiritual music doesn’t have to come from established channels of gospel and CCM talent. Portland, Oregon’s Christian alternative singer-songwriter Holly Ann Winchell (aka Holly Ann) is another pleasant discovery in this same vein.  Released last month on Deeper Well Records, her Light and Bloom is a great big introspective thank you letter to God. The album’s praise songs are atmospheric and minimal, Holly Ann’s voice beguiling and poignant. Although her publicity cites Mazzy Star as ...

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Christians Catch Hell: Gospel Roots 1976-79

Various Artists Christians Catch Hell: Gospel Roots 1976-79 Honest Jon’s Records http://honestjons.com/shop/artist/Christians_Catch_Hell By Bob Marovich Those of us who moved and grooved to 1970s hits by the likes of George McCrae and K.C. and the Sunshine Band on Henry Stone’s TK label had no idea the veteran record man had a subsidiary reserved for the sacred. He did.  It was called Gospel Roots and, thanks to Honest Jon’s Records, Christians Catch Hell is a top-quality retrospective of the label’s life and times. The title and front cover of the album reference the extended title track of the Reverend Edna Isaac and the ...

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