Reviews

Kevin Riley – Restored for Worship

Kevin Riley Restored for Worship Kevin Riley Music (release date: July 21, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/kevinriley7 By Bob Marovich What strikes you upon hearing Kevin Riley’s new album, Restored for Worship, is how well the project would work as an Easter cantata. Literally beginning at the beginning, with dramatically-spoken snippets from early Genesis during the first of the Little Rock, Arkansas’ singer-songwriter’s several interludes, Restored for Worship follows the march of time from creation and the dawn of humanity to Jesus’s passion, resurrection, ascension, and the first Pentecost. Riley uses this construct to show how the “plan of redemption” that began before creation ...

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“Holy is the Lord” – Lorraine Stancil

“Holy is the Lord” Lorraine Stancil From the EP Awesome God Anointed Sounds Records www.cdbaby.com/cd/lorrainestancil1 Although Lorraine Stancil has earned a reputation as a fiery gospel singer, as on “Something About that Name” and “Awesome God,” she can deliver anthems with dignity and fullness of tone. “Holy is the Lord” is a good example of her more deliberate side. On this live selection from her Awesome God EP, Stancil hits high notes over the stave like a veteran church singer. Lorraine Stancil is a veteran gospel singer, having worked with Hezekiah Walker and the Love Crusade Choir, Youthful Praise, and ...

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Jonathan McReynolds – Life Music: Stage Two

Jonathan McReynolds Life Music: Stage Two eOne/Tehillah Music Group (release date: September 18, 2015) www.jonathanmcreynolds.com By Bob Marovich Life Music: Stage Two couldn’t be a better showcase for Jonathan McReynolds. The follow-up album to the 26-year-old singer-songwriter-musician’s 2012 debut, Life Music, Stage Two is the musical manifestation of his honest and spiritually grounded approach to dealing with the vicissitudes of daily life. The Chicago-born McReynolds is one of the few gospel solo artists who plays acoustic guitar. His mellow blend of acoustic neo-soul with churchy conviction may be somewhat novel today, but it mirrors the intimacy of his lyrics, which feel like ...

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“Here I Am” – Zaviel Janae

Zaviel Janae Here I Am (2015) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Zaviel Janae Slack (Zaviel Janae) of Atlanta opens her live album, Here I Am, with a blunt and tearful testimony. Her story of how a pregnancy out of wedlock went from bad to worse but ended positively is the kind of mea culpa that leads one to devote her life to God and sacred music. That’s what she’s done. Praise leader, member of neo-soul group Lyrikal, and frequent vocalist with Darwin Hobbs, Zaviel Janae has an expressive, church-filling voice that, like Casey J, Tasha Cobbs, or Kierra Sheard, ...

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“I Survived It” – Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation feat. Joshua Rogers

“I Survived It” Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation feat. Joshua Rogers AMA Productions (release date; September 22, 2015) www.thechosenaggregation.com Sunday Best Season Five champion Joshua Rogers guest solos on “I Survived It,” a neo-traditional choir piece with a rocking chair 12/8 tempo and Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation contributing thunderous harmonies. Employing a battery of gospel blue notes, Rogers and the choir gratefully acknowledge a journey filled with disappointments, heartaches, trials and tribulations, and the supreme satisfaction of overcoming it all with God’s help. The choir started out in Atlanta in 1993 as Dirk Chaney & the Chosen Aggregation. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2015

“Have You Been Shook” The Sons of the Soul Revivers (2015) https://www.facebook.com/TheSonsOfTheSoulReviversOfSanFranciscoCA San Francisco quartet The Sons of the Soul Revivers barrels down in fourth gear on the drive tempo “Have You Been Shook,” singing with the alacrity of their predecessors, the Soul Revivers. Eschewing electronic keys, programmed drums, etc. for raw propulsion from electric guitar, real drum skins, bass, and shouting vocals, the Sons even sound like the former group. The main phrase is one that actually works better in the passive voice: “Have you been shook by the hand of God?”  The song must do well at live ...

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“Scream” – Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi

“Scream” Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi From the E’Mazin Entertainment EP It Was You (2014) Available at online music stores “Scream,” from Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi’s EP It Was You, pulls a play from Kirk Franklin’s book of modern arrangements. Like Franklin’s “Smile,” a piano plinks out quarter notes to accompany a perky melody sung antiphonally between Billups and his ensemble. Declaring that “it’s okay to be stressed but don’t give up,” Billups put a more realistic spin on the adage of “don’t worry, be happy.” In other words, when life hands you sour lemons, go ahead and ...

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“I Tried Him For Myself” – Ellen Hayes & Harmonee

“I Tried Him For Myself” Ellen Hayes & Harmonee True Inspiration Music Group (2015) www.meetellenhayes.com A breezy but insistent mid-tempo rhythm propels this soulful selection from Detroit family group Ellen Hayes & Harmonee. On “I Tried Him For Myself,” mother (Ellen) and daughters (Harmonee) offer their testimony of God’s greatness, based on experience. He made a way, he opened doors, he opened eyes. They “know too much about Him” to disbelieve. What’s especially notable about this single is Harmonee—LaToya Bellafant, Cynthia Gross and Carmen Hayes—whose background vocals are stunning. Maybe part of it is the mixing of Grammy Award-winner Eric ...

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Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents The Independent Spirit, Vol. 1

Various Artists Gerald “Da Gospel Truth” Jones Presents The Independent Spirit, Volume 1 (release date: September 4, 2015) www.ispiritmusic.com By Bob Marovich Industry insiders will tell you that some of the best gospel music is not being heard on mainstream gospel radio. It’s being produced by independent, or indie, artists. That should not surprise anyone. It is the case with most music genres. It has been that way for decades. Artists typically do their finest work during their “hungry” or “salad” days. And every artist was once an independent. James Cleveland. Kirk Franklin. Mahalia Jackson. The Caravans. The father of ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 7, 2015

“So Good” Melvin Williams feat. Dottie Peoples From the forthcoming album Where I Started From www.MelvinWilliams.net Melvin Williams of the Williams Brothers quartet joins the fiery Dottie Peoples in a bluesy gospel “take ‘em to church” moment. The Stan Jones-produced “So Good” is a litany of the many ways God has been good to His people throughout the ages, today, and into the future. By mid-recording, the two singers turn downright evangelistic, instructing the listener in urgent, direct tones to mind well their words. Someone who can “rescue Daniel from the lion’s den,” “turn water into wine” and “give eyesight ...

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