Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: January 18, 2016

“Trust and Depend” Voncile Belcher From the CD Phenomenal www.ladyvoncile.com Taken at pulse-racing praise break tempo, “Trust and Depend” finds traditional gospel singer Lady Voncile Belcher clad in her shouting shoes, evangelizing to the congregation about the importance of leaning on the Lord during the toughest of times. If your “life’s in despair” or your “bills are due and all your money’s gone,” the Alabama native sings, trust Him. You can imagine her walking the full length of the aisle teaching this time-honored lesson. Meanwhile, the synth imitates brass as the drums bear down with a vengeance. Quick and effective.

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Dr. Karry D. Wesley Presents the Antioch Fellowship Church Voices of Praise: Speak to My Heart

Dr. Karry D. Wesley Presents the Antioch Fellowship Church Voices of Praise Speak to My Heart Antioch Fellowship MBC (release date: January 15, 2016) www.afmbc.org By Bob Marovich Big churches need big choirs, and big choirs need a big sound to fill a big church. The Voices of Praise choir envelops the 54,000 square-foot Worship Center of the Antioch Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—a state where big is boss—with its thunderous timbre. That, and a contemporary flourish with no small amount of traditional flair. The choir’s self-produced debut album, Speak to My Heart, offers up examples of their ...

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Conrad Miller – Thankful

Conrad Miller Thankful Millcon Music Ministries (release date: January 15, 2016) www.conradmillermusic.com By Bob Marovich If you don’t know Conrad Miller from his relatively newfound career in the sacred music field, you may remember him as a member of 1970s smooth soul groups the Soulful Seven or the Softones. Miller’s throaty croon that helped to float the Softones’ “Carla, My Love” onto the airwaves can be heard on his latest gospel album, Thankful. Like his previous release, Keep Pressing, Thankful rides in a musically conventional lane.  True to the album’s title, most of the songs contain straightforward lyrics of praise and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 11, 2016

“Make a Way” Shanta Gray From her CD The Blood (2014) www.shantagraymusic.com On her new single, “Make a Way,” Alisa “Shanta” Gray doesn’t stray one iota from her roots as a member of the tradition-keeping Chicago Mass Choir, New Direction (founded by her husband, Jeral V. Gray), and other Chicago-based gospel choral ensembles. In fact, the single has a distinctly Cosmopolitan Warriors vibe with the frenetic pace, handclapping choir, churchy vocals, charging musicians, crowd-grabbing vamp, and Gray’s shouting vocals topping it all. “Make a Way” couldn’t be more Chicago if it wore a Bears cap and called every bridge a ...

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Trinity Dawson – With All I Am

Trinity Dawson With All I Am New Day (2015) www.trinitydawsonmusic.com By Bob Marovich Flexibility is a critical asset for a running back. It certainly helped Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Trinity Dawson. When he was a running back for the University of Toledo, flexibility helped him to enter the school record book for rushing yards. Dawson’s beguiling tenor voice is just as flexible. It is, in fact, the ideal vehicle for the easy, ambient religious music that he has embraced and showcases on his debut album, With All I Am. Dawson’s sound falls somewhere between Jonathan McReynolds and John Legend, the latter an acknowledged ...

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Jon Plair – Can You Imagine

Jon Plair Can You Imagine (self-released) www.jonplair.com By Bob Marovich Jon Plair surrounded himself with talented musicians and singers for his latest album, Can You Imagine, and it’s telling in the quality of the project. Plair, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who now calls Detroit home, functions on the album as a master of ceremonies, a bandleader, or even a preacher, for that matter.  His authoritative interaction with his background vocalists, as well as the messages of hope and encouragement in his songs, evoke James Fortune & FIYA. In fact, Plair’s music is so evocative of Fortune & FIYA that ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 4, 2016

“Use What I Have” Dynamic Abraham Brothers From the album Family Reunion Available on iTunes In the spirit of Psalm 98, the Dynamic Abraham Brothers encourage praising God by making a joyful noise in all the Earth. If you have a harp, trumpet, or cornet, shouts the lead singer, go on ahead and use them. But if you don’t have those instruments, “use what you have.” To the strutting downbeat characteristic of gospel quartets in drive mode, the Abraham Brothers demonstrate how using one’s hands, legs, and even eyes to clap, dance, and witness in praise of God’s blessings are more than adequate ...

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“Overflow” – Bryan Andrew Wilson feat. Roderick Giles & Grace

“Overflow” Bryan Andrew Wilson Feat. Roderick Giles & Grace Bryan’s Songs Records (release date: January 2016) Bryan Andrew Wilson’s forthcoming single “Overflow” falls squarely within the current gospel appetite for brisk, mid-tempo P&W songs with easy to learn melodies and lyrics. As such, it seems ideal for praise team use. Wilson, along with Roderick Giles & Grace as background vocalists, and the musicians, build incrementally from zero to sixty in dynamics over the course of the four-plus minute selection. Giles, incidentally, formed the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) Chorale, which was a regional champ of Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound” competition ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 28, 2015

“Satisfied” The Fantastic Violinaires Release date: June 30, 2015 Available from digital music stores Like several professional gospel quartets that organized during or before gospel’s golden age, the Fantastic Violinaires are still very much in the soul-saving business. Recharged with new personnel, the quartet founded in Detroit in 1952 maintains its trademark treble harmonies that inspire quartets even today.  And if “Satisfied” is any indication, the group still has plenty of drive in its system. The new single, which piles plaudits upon the Most High for graces bestowed, is vintage Violinaires, complete with piercing, punctuating harmonies, call and response, gritty ...

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Alache’ – The Chronicles of the Mrs. (EP)

Alache’ The Chronicles of the Mrs. (EP) MADE, Inc. / Elevate Entertainment / Syntax Distribution Release date: November 27, 2015 www.alache.com By Bob Marovich The Nigerian-born Alache’ has learned to be a lot more comfortable about life in the five years that have passed since her last music project.  The petite singer-songwriter is now married, has two children, and is ready to jump back into the music business. She also wants to share her lessons with you on an EP of intimate personal reflection, titled The Chronicles of the Mrs. The feathery-voiced Alache’ traverses several stylistic platforms in the EP’s limited running time, ...

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