Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: November 6, 2017

“Wood and Nails” Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad From Work Songs: The Porter’s Gate Worship Project, Volume 1 (Live) (release date: October 6, 2017) www.portersgateworship.com By Bob Marovich “Wood and Nails,” Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad’s feather-light and stunningly gorgeous duet, has its foundation in contemporary Christian music but its simplicity seems to come straight from a Shaker hymnbook. Assad’s vulnerable soprano is otherworldly, whether solo or in two-part harmony with Garrels. The spare acoustic arrangement is ideal for this prayerful meditation on how Jesus, the carpenter, built our home with the wood and nails of the Cross. The single is part of ...

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Chris Jasper – Thank You Jesus

Chris Jasper Thank You Jesus Gold City Music (2015; re-release date: August 11, 2016) www.ChrisJasper.com By Bob Marovich Someone once asked a singer to define the difference between gospel and jazz. The artist answered with two words: the lyrics. The same can be said about the difference between gospel and pretty much all genres, including R&B and soul. Proof positive: Thank You Jesus, Chris Jasper’s two-CD compilation of his gospel and inspirational material. Jasper, former songwriter, producer, and vocalist for the Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley, presses his retro smooth soul stylings into the service of the Lord. Some songs are inspirational ...

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Higher Vision – For Your Kingdom

Higher Vision For Your Kingdom Syntax Distribution (release date: October 6, 2017) www.highervisionworship.com By Bob Marovich For Your Kingdom is the debut offering from the worship team of the 3,000+ member multigenerational Higher Vision Church, located in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. The album is an hour-plus of high energy stadium-sized performances of praise songs wrapped in Christian rock and electronic pop music. As with many live P&W projects, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For Your Kingdom’s anthemic songs float along on melodies and themes that blend together, creating not an album of individually distinctive tracks ...

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G.I. – Winning

G.I. Winning BGA Records / Shanachie (release date: September 8, 2017) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Depending on your political point of view, “winning” can be a timeless mantra or a creepy coded message. For Richmond, Virginia’s G.I., however, winning is not a political football but a forgone conclusion. Just believe. With God, they sing, it’s already done.  For you. Comprised of Branden Anderson, Lamonte Harris, and Rufus Johnson III, G.I. (aka God’s Image) is a harmony trio that falls somewhere between a modern quartet and a gospel group. Surrounding themselves with electronica, trap, hip hop, R&B, and other elements of urban ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 30, 2017

“God is Making a Change” Endurance From the SCCME CD Changed (release date: September 29, 2017) www.musicbyendurance.com By Bob Marovich Infrequently in Journal of Gospel Music‘s 13-year history has an artist charted two successive Picks of the Week. Houston’s Endurance has done it this time. Last week, we featured the quartet’s “Changed,” featuring a lead vocal cameo by the late Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. Endurance’s new single, “God is Making a Change,” is equally effective for its enthusiasm over the change that God has made in the lives of the members. Although the chorus follows the traditional ...

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“Benediction” – The Paula Boggs Band

“Benediction” The Paula Boggs Band From the CD Elixir: The Soulgrass Sessions (release date: September 15, 2017) www.paulaboggsband.net By Bob Marovich Seattle’s Paula Boggs penned “Benediction” in the aftermath of the racist-fueled shooting that ended the lives of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The song expresses her grief over the tragedy and her desire for a productive end to the divisiveness and violence that have scarred the United States for centuries. Boggs, who in addition to being a guitar-wielding singer-songwriter, is an Army veteran and a former general counsel for Starbucks and Assistant U.S. Attorney for ...

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Tim Bowman – Into the Blue

Tim Bowman Into the Blue I.M. Records / Purpose Jazz / NIA Music Distribution LLC (release date: September 8, 2017) www.TimBowman.com By Bob Marovich Tim Bowman’s seventh album, Into the Blue, is not a gospel album but a collection of smooth jazz performances, mostly instrumentals, that includes a little of everything, including inspirational and sacred selections. Bowman, who was musical director for the Winans until he embarked on a solo career in 1987, plays electric guitar with the soulful finesse of Wes Montgomery and the fluidity of Chet Atkins. Kirk Whalum kept coming to mind as I listened to the CD ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 24, 2017

“Changed” Endurance feat. Joe Ligon SCCME (release date: January, 2017) www.musicbyendurance.com By Bob Marovich A few years ago, Houston’s Endurance quartet asked Joe Ligon, the legendary lead singer of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, to join them on “Changed” (not the Hawkins classic) and tell everyone about the life transforming properties of salvation. Ligon accepted. On “Changed,” he and Endurance’s Michael Robertson first trade leads and then sing to one another like two deacons so engaged in a praise conversation that they are oblivious to the congregation. “Joe, I know what you are singing about,” Robertson shouts in full quartet growl. “It’s ...

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Camille Nelson – Lead Me Home

Camille Nelson Lead Me Home Stone Angel Music (release date: August 18, 2017) www.camillenelson.com By Bob Marovich You can almost smell the spice-scented candles and warmly fragrant aromatherapy oils while listening to Camille Nelson’s second studio album, Lead Me Home. This CD of instrumentals of classic and original hymns evokes the gentle, acoustic music you hear wafting from the speakers in a floral shop or greeting card store. Nelson, a Utah-based guitarist and violinist, gathered together a string ensemble to assist her on this collection. Featured instrumentalists are cellist (and Camille’s brother) Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys (“Come, Come, Ye Saints”) and ...

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Ted Winn featuring Balance – Stand in Awe

Ted Winn featuring Balance Stand in Awe Shanachie Records (release date: September 1, 2017) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich First attracting the attention of the national gospel music audience in 1995 as one-half of the duo Ted & Sheri (with Sheri Jones-Moffett), Ted Winn has been a solo artist for nearly a decade. Winn’s latest project, Stand in Awe, continues his commitment to “horizontal” praise songs that are more in keeping with gospel’s lyric tradition than the “vertical” Contemporary Christian Music that lofts praises without explicitly acknowledging how God helps his people overcome the life struggles and persistent oppression that cannot be ignored ...

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