Reviews

Shalom Church & Friends – Victorious (Live)

Dr. F. James Clark Presents Shalom Church & Friends Victorious (Live) EP City of Peace Music (release date: September 4, 2020) www.shalomandfriends.com By Robert M. Marovich The six-track Victorious (Live) is the latest release and the first of two new EPs by Dr. F. James Clark and Shalom Church (City of Peace) in Florissant, Missouri, a town situated north of St. Louis and near the conflux of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The megachurch choir’s five-star debut album, 2015’s Simply Amazing, lived up to its title. Dello Thedford, that album’s composer and conductor, is at the helm on Victorious. Thedford once ...

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“Trust in the Lord” – Danielle Sunny Bryant

“Trust in the Lord” Danielle Sunny Bryant Ndamix Music Group (release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich On “Trust in the Lord,” Danielle Sunny Bryant encourages the discouraged by setting Proverbs 3: 5-6 to a meaty contemporary arrangement. Bryant’s attractive vocalizing toggles between modern and traditional, demonstrating her comfort with both styles. Starting out even-keeled, she moves the song toward the vamp, where the background vocalists do the melodic lifting so she can turn up the temperature and deliver a bluesy evangelism. The preferred extended version gives listeners a larger dose of Bryant’s vocal proclivities, including falsetto whoops ...

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“Come Praise the Lord” – Sounds of Imani

“Come Praise the Lord”Sounds of ImaniHeaven-Wings Records (release date: September 26, 2020)www.soundsofimani.com By Robert M. Marovich There have been husband-and-wife singing duos in gospel music since the beginning of the genre. For nearly 25 years, Pastor Gerald and Lady Carol Irvin have maintained the tradition, with “Come Praise the Lord” their latest single. Unlike the duo’s breezy, Hawkins-esque “Because of Who You Are,” the new song is a disco-driven piece that encourages everyone to dance while praising. “Move your feet to the beat,” the background vocalists chime, as Gerald and Carol weave their vocals together like a gospelized Yarborough and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 30, 2020

“He’s Here” Darrell McFadden & the Disciples From the RuffBoyz Music Group LLC / Overboard Records CD Book of Life, Vol. 1 (release date: May 29, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be stopping Ruff Boyz Music Group and Overboard Records. The partnership is minting some outstanding traditional gospel. In addition to last week’s feature by the Swanee Quintet, the partnership has produced Darrell McFadden & the Disciples’ album Book of Life, Vol. 1, and the single, “He’s Here.” This drive-tempo selection, which features call-and-response between McFadden and the group and, later, McFadden and a second lead, ...

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Jon Scott – “Freedom – A New Jerusalem”

“Freedom – A New Jerusalem” Jon Scott From the Brown Babes EP Freedom – A New Jerusalem (release date: November 17, 2020) Jon Scott, a London-based singer-songwriter (and first cousin to international singing star Seal), wrote “Freedom – A New Jerusalem” in response to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The murder of George Floyd only amplified Scott’s anger. With elements of Afrobeat and a U2-esque world pop sensibility, the title track of Scott’s four-track EP is an explicit call on the international community to break down the dividing walls and ...

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Sandra McCracken – Patient Kingdom

Sandra McCracken Patient Kingdom Integrity Music (release date: October 9, 2020) www.sandramccracken.com By Robert M. Marovich Whether or not Sandra McCracken penned the ten songs on Patient Kingdom before or during the pandemic, they certainly express well the disquiet of the times. But the world-weariness welling from deep within the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s throat expresses not helplessness but hopefulness, as if giving testimony to the cyclicality and potentiality of life. And that is what, I believe, the new album is all about. Songs on Patient Kingdom that are particularly attuned to the times include the gentle and tuneful “You Are With ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2020

“Dr. Jesus” The Swanee Quintet From the Ruff Boyz Music Group LLC / Overboard Records CD Made in Augusta: Live at the Bell Auditorium (release date: June 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich “Dr. Jesus” is a Swanee Quintet perennial, a song they cannot eliminate from their repertory no matter how many years they are on the road or how many radio singles they accumulate. Nor should they: it’s a surefire way to lift congregations from their seats and start them to clapping and waving their hands. The Augusta, Georgia, quartet’s most recent recording of “Dr. Jesus” comes from a ...

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“I’m Not Ashamed” – Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter

“I’m Not Ashamed” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter Puretonez Productions (release date: September 8, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich You can’t go wrong pairing Monica Lisa Stevenson and Paul Porter on a song brimming with evangelism. The two traditional vocalists sing and shout like veteran evangelists as the musicians and BGVs offer shoulder-shaking support. Former Christianaires member Porter lofts falsetto notes while Stevenson digs deep to deliver bluesy runs. Their most simmering singing occurs during the vamp, when they move, like preachers, from a reasoned to a more emotional testification. “I’m Not Ashamed” is written by VaShawn Mitchell and ...

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Hanson Asiedu – Back to Life (EP)

Hanson Asiedu Back to Life (EP) Release date: October 18, 2020 www.hansonasiedu.com By Robert M. Marovich Formerly known as Kase Sounds, Hanson Asiedu is a Ghanian living in London whose responsibilities have included postman and police officer in addition to Christian singer-songwriter. His new EP, Back to Life, offers four songs that share sonic similarity but offer a variety of messages. Asiedu’s style, like many European gospel artists, is introspective and gentle, a Jonathan McReynolds feel with the acoustic guitar front and center. His voice is equally calming, sometimes fragile, but unremittingly pure, with little ornamentation. The mid-tempo “Holy Ghost ...

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Leland Philpot – Psalms in the Midst (EP)

Leland Philpot Psalms in the Midst (EP) BabelScattered Productions (release date: October 5, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Chicago avant-garde gospel hip-hop artist Leland Philpot draws on hip-hop, jazz, gospel, and techno wizardry for his EP Psalms in the Midst. Billed as Philpot’s testimony set to music, the EP opens with the title track, a mini-sermon that serves as a general introduction. An aggressive rapper but a disinterested singer, Philpot rhymes rapid fire, near to breathlessly, on “The Gift,” as the beats beep and burble behind him like arcade games. Minimalist beats and gushes of quick rhyming also propel “Break ...

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