Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: January 16, 2017

“All God’s Children Ain’t Free” Level One Sound presents the Jones Family Singers www.jonesfamilysingers.com It seemed appropriate, on this remembrance day for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that JGM should spotlight the Jones Family Singers’ newly-released cover of Johnny Cash’s “All God’s Children Ain’t Free.” Bishop Fred Jones Sr. channels Cash’s folksy rumination while daughter Alexis Jones-Giles accentuates the most important lines of the lyric with the vocal force of a human trumpet. The echo-y harmonies and jangly tambourine, when combined with the steady and minimal country beat, evoke Cash’s original from his 1965 Orange Blossom Special (Columbia Records). Recorded at Level One ...

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“When Will It End?” – Dave Bass & the D.B.G.s

“When Will It End?” Dave Bass & the D.B.G.s DNB Associates, Inc. (2013) www.cdbaby.com/cd/davebass2 DC-area gospel soloist Dave Bass recorded “When Will It End?” in 2013 after the death of Trayvon Martin. Since the song’s message, “the way you look can change your fate,” rings just as true four years later, he’s putting it back front and center to call more attention to the need for justice and truth. Bass’s stinging line about Martin, “only seventeen, went for a snack / a brief encounter, never came back,” subconsciously evokes “The Ballad of Emmett Till,” a 1956 recording by Scatman Crothers’ ...

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J. Bethel & Spoken For – All In

J. Bethel & Spoken For All In (independent release) www.jbs4.co By Bob Marovich All in, indeed. Frenetically rolling drums at the outset signify that the debut full-length release by Detroit gospel group J. Bethel & Spoken For is about to dazzle the listener with a proverbial kitchen sink’s worth of instrumentation and a high-energy range of musical influences, from jazz to rock to contemporary gospel and even some funk (after all, Jason “J” Bethel Sr.’s uncle worked with Parliament Funkadelic). The album leans heavy on the church truism that praise is the answer, especially during personal trials, as articulated on “I ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 9, 2017

“Whoa” Bryan Andrew Wilson Bryan’s Songs/CE Music Bryan Andrew Wilson opens 2017 with a well-crafted single whose message of encouragement is a life saver in the midst of a swirling rapid. “I see past my now / I know it will get better,” he sings, and as the music and voices build, so does the buoyancy of the message. Nevertheless, the musicians keep the drama at bay, rolling at an easy clip to let the lyrics do the heavy lifting. “Whoa” is a fine follow up to “Overflow” and much closer to “Turning Away” in appeal. Check out Bryan’s crystalline ...

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“Holy” – Donnell Russell

“Holy” Donnell Russell From the forthcoming EP Life’s Anthem www.donnellrussell.com An independent artist from New Orleans, Donnell “D’Russ” Russell has stepped out on his own after a decade of working with choirs, groups, and other artists, most notably with Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith. Russell’s second solo single, “Holy,” is a mid-tempo Rhythm & Praise anthem on which he and his background vocalists get into call-and-response mode to lavish praises on the Savior. A few bars of the classic hymn, “Holy Holy Holy,” appear toward the end. Confident singing with conviction. Ideal for worship teams.

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 2, 2017

“I Will Be Waiting” Guro Elverhoi (released October 20, 2016) www.guromusic.com “I Will Be Waiting” is a new single from Guro Elverhoi, a talented singer with a delicate and beautiful voice that evokes a young Joni Mitchell. Led by an acoustic guitar, the song is a wispy Christian folk ballad brimming with similes about seeking God’s guidance patiently. From Roeyken, Norway, where she directed a local youth choir and received a Cultural Scholarship for her many contributions to the area’s arts scene, Guro graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2015. She is now based in Los Angeles, where she ...

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Nimisilla Park – Welcome to Nimisilla Park (EP)

Nimisilla Park Welcome to Nimisilla Park (EP) Coal Mine Entertainment (release date: October 7, 2016) http://nimisillapark.com By Bob Marovich Alton Hood and Michael Brown, best known as the founding members of pioneer Christian hip hop group and GRAMMY and Dove Award nominee D.O.C. (Disciples of Christ), return after a decade-long hiatus. But they are not returning as D.O.C. Making an emotional, if not entirely musical, break with the past, the duo is now known as Nimisilla Park. Welcome to Nimisilla Park is an apt title for the first eight-track EP to be released under the rebranding. The EP reflects the duo’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 26, 2016

“Away in a Manager” The Wardlaw Brothers Available on iTunes Appropriately, the final Pick of the Week for 2016 is a beloved nineteenth-century Christmas carol given a contemporary flourish by the Wardlaw Brothers. Cascading harmonies introduce a slight variation on the carol’s traditional melody, giving the piece even more of a lullaby-like quality. A delicate string-led arrangement underpins the group’s ensemble and solo work. But what makes the Wardlaw Brothers’ singing on this carol especially appealing is a prominent bass vocal line that complements the complex high register harmonies. By the conclusion, one can understand why the Wardlaw Brothers have been nicknamed ...

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Anthony Faulkner – Guardian Angel

Anthony Faulkner Guardian Angel 7TH Chapter Music (2016) www.afaulkner.com By Bob Marovich It’s no surprise that Angela Winbush of 1980s R&B vocal duo Rene’ and Angela makes a vocal appearance on “Closer,” a song on Anthony Faulkner’s new album, Guardian Angel. Faulkner considers her his personal guardian angel. He told the Journal of Gospel Music how he met the popular singer at his church or, rather, how she met him: “[Angela] didn’t know me from any of the other kids, but she walked up to me at church one day and asked me, ‘Do you like music?’ She challenged me to go ...

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Brothers in Unity – Somewhere to Lay My Head

Brothers in Unity Somewhere to Lay My Head (independent release) By Bob Marovich Originally recorded in 2008 as their debut album and relaunched this year, the Brothers in Unity quartet’s Somewhere to Lay My Head is an album of traditional hymns as well as new songs composed in the traditional gospel quartet style. The album is lovingly dedicated to Sandra Abney, the spouse of the quartet’s founder and manager, Elder Larry Abney, and someone who, from the photo included in the album package, sadly passed away much too young. The title track, not a cover of the Sensational Nightingales/Highway QCs ...

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