Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2017

“Never Give Up on You” Dennis Yancey http://www.igaraa.com/dennis-yancey.html By Bob Marovich Indie gospel artist Dennis Yancey’s “Never Give Up on You” is a simple, effective, and tunefully smooth ballad about maintaining complete trust in God, especially during the tough times, because God has never given up on us. Yancey’s relaxed vocals make his singing sound effortless. Sparkling production by Suga Mike Allen ensures that the message is undeniably clear. It’s reminiscent of their earlier collaboration on the equally compelling ballad of faith, “Though You Slay Me.” From Queens, New York, Dennis Yancey just celebrated his 40th birthday last month. A full ...

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Above Board – Job Well Done (EP)

Above Board Job Well Done (EP) https://www.facebook.com/aboveboardmusic/ By Bob Marovich I had guessed that Ed Vangelisti and Amanda Picart, the engaged couple who performs as Above Board, were from California before I looked it up and saw that, in fact, they are in Fort Bragg, California. Their effervescent singing, bright melodies, two part harmony, and mostly acoustic accompaniment are like a spring breeze off the northern coast of the Golden State. The duo’s three-track EP, Job Well Done, is brief but indeed a job well done. Evoking alt-folk groups such as the Decemberists and Fleet Foxes, Above Board puts three praise ...

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Nichole Nordeman – Every Mile Mattered

Nichole Nordeman Every Mile Mattered Sparrow Records / Capitol CMG Label Group www.sparrowrecords.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman has a lot to say in her new album, Every Mile Mattered, and we need to hear it. In a hauntingly beautiful voice that evokes contemporary folk artists Beth Nielsen Chapman and Alice Peacock, Nordeman offers a theology stripped of fiats and thou shalts. For her, it’s simple. Jesus is everywhere, at all times, and in every moment of our lives.  For example, in “You’re Here,” Nordeman hears God saying that “the only invitation that you need, is the very ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 29, 2017

“Higher Place” Angelo and Veronica From the forthcoming A & V Music CD The Truth http://angeloandveronica.com/ By Bob Marovich In 1992, fresh on the scene and armed with training from Berklee College of Music, contemporary Christian singing duo Angelo and Veronica released their first album, Higher Place, on A & M Records. Among the songs they co-wrote for their debut disc was the title track, a song about a “place where you can just be you.” Luring the listener with the lyric line, “You take me to a higher place / You take me to a place I’ve never been ...

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Michelle David – The Gospel Sessions Volume 2

Michelle David The Gospel Sessions Vol. 2 Excelsior Recordings www.excelsior-recordings.com By Bob Marovich Ironically, Michelle David’s The Gospel Sessions Volume 2 has such deep roots in Americana music that it probably would never be released by a U.S.-based gospel label. The current clamor for big and bold gospel singing and stadium-sized musicianship has eclipsed the more subtle, but no less soulful, sacred sounds and nuanced artistry of singers like Liz Vice and, as she demonstrates on this album, Michelle David. David, born and educated in New York and living in Holland since 1994, reunites with multi-instrumentalists Onno Smit, Toon Oomen, and ...

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“Holy, Holy” – Fresh Anointing

“Holy, Holy” Fresh Anointing Enon Music Group (release date: March 17, 2017) Available from digital media outlets By Bob Marovich Released in March of this year by the young adult choir Fresh Anointing of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, “Holy, Holy” is a contemporary take on the nineteenth-century hymn. Garland “Miche” Waller, Enon’s minister of music, packs his adagio arrangement of the beloved hymn with the bold, round harmonies characteristic of the modern gospel choir. Fresh Anointing builds the song’s dynamics incrementally, but as soon as they hit the song’s emotional apex and you expect a key change or big, dramatic ...

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“Jesus Is Lord” – Calvin Bridges

“Jesus is Lord” Calvin Bridges From the PNEUMA/Spirit Recordings, Inc. EP Jesus is Lord (release date: July 18, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/calvinbridges15 By Bob Marovich Back in February of this year, Greater Harvest M. B. Church on Chicago’s South Side was the live recording headquarters for the award-winning gospel singer-songwriter Calvin Bridges (“I Can Go to God in Prayer”). Among the songs he introduced that evening was “Jesus Is Lord.” This radio-friendly R&P song evokes the effervescence of the artist himself in its periodic staccato blasts of funk from the musicians and tight call-and-response between Bridges and his choir. Bridges wraps his ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 21, 2017

“Too Hard Not To” Tina Campbell Malaco Music Group / Gee Tee Creative (2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell’s new single, “Too Hard Not To,” feels like an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend conversation about the difficulty, and also the importance, of forgiving and forgetting. The intimacy not only comes from the song’s lyric, but also from the stripped down acoustic piano accompaniment. Delivering the lovely melody with grace and tenderness, Campbell reminds the listener that no matter how bad a situation gets, no matter how hard it is to forgive those who have done the unthinkable to you, there’s “someone so loving and ...

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Royce Lovett – Love & Other Dreams

Royce Lovett Love & Other Dreams Motown Gospel (release date: July 14, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Royce Lovett is one of the most distinctive voices on the Motown Gospel roster. Not surprisingly, his new album, Love & Other Dreams, is as artistically unpredictable as its creator. The guitar-playing Tallahassee, Florida, singer-songwriter splashes a palette of neo-soul on coded messages about survival in modern society. The album feels like a somnambulant journey of a soul gasping, as if drowning, for the oxygen of freedom. Where can lung-expanding oxygen be found?  Lovett answers on the album’s hypnotic current single, “Up for Love:” it’s in the clouds, where there are ...

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Devin Williams – We Are Forever Yours (EP)

Devin Williams We Are Forever Yours (EP) Independent: (release date: August 4, 2017) www.devinw.com By Bob Marovich The power of love, both given and received, is at the center of We Are Forever Yours, the latest release by worship leader and six-time Billboard Top 30-charting Christian artist Devin Williams. Nowhere is this negotiation more explicit than on the current single, “Hear Our Hearts Sing.” Interceding on behalf of an inferred congregation on this vibrant song of corporate worship, Williams offers God the congregation’s (and his) collective hearts. But this is not a one-way proposition; in return, God will bestow peace, ...

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