Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: April 3, 2017

“Keep Pushin” Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson SRT Entertainment (release date: March 24, 2017) To a hard-charging funk arrangement, Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson encourages listeners to not give up because God “will never leave you by yourself.” Working two jobs? Body in pain? “Just keep pushin’.” A young man born with an old soul, Johnson has helped keep the traditional quartet sound alive, though “Keep Pushin” has more in common with mid-‘70s Isley Brothers. Nevertheless, Johnson lets loose with a good old quartet shout several times during the song. Johnson recently paid tribute to Spencer Taylor Jr., “the Godfather of Gospel,” with a ...

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“The Blood” – Charles Butler & Trinity

“The Blood” Charles Butler & Trinity From the Anointed Sounds Records album Make It (release date of single: February 2017) Charles Butler & Trinity heightens the tension dramatically and in short order on “The Blood,” a Mandel Copeland composition. Taking for its theme the redemptive power of Jesus’s death on the cross—a salient subject during this time in the liturgical year—“The Blood” begins with soft harmonies and contemporary chords but concludes with full-on preacher’s shouts and Trinity as a spiritually unshackled congregation. Mandel’s brother Josh Copeland leads, employing the same verve he had when he sang this song with the Copeland ...

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“You Are” – Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir

“You Are” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the forthcoming album Sure. Focused. Centered. (release date: summer 2017) www.nextgenchoir.com By Bob Marovich Plaudits to the Most High are lifted with nimble vocalizing, a brisk tempo, and pleasantly startling punctuations of high notes by the NextGeneration Choir of the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. On the song’s hook, the music fades as the choir runs rapidly through a litany of names for God.  It was such an attention grabber, they could have kept on going. NextGeneration Choir, Dr. F. James Clark’s young adult chorus, hopes to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 27, 2017

“Joy!” Warren Dean Flandez, feat. Top Line Vocal Collective From the CD Eternally Grateful www.wdfworld.com On his new project, Eternally Grateful, Vancouver gospel sensation Warren Dean Flandez reprises the five-star material from his EP What the World Needs Now, adding additional tracks to round the package out. “Joy!,” featuring the talented 50-member choir known as Top Line Vocal Collective, is one of the songs brought forward from the EP. This paean to God’s goodness blends old and new seamlessly, capturing the celebratory mood found in both traditional and contemporary gospel music. Reviewing What the World Needs Now last March, I had ...

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Boo Deezy – Positive Ratchetness Vol. 1

Boo Deezy Positive Ratchetness Vol. 1 3L Records (2016) www.reverbnation.com/boodeezy904 By Bob Marovich I’ve said before that Christian hip hop artists are modern day manifestations of the early twentieth century street evangelists who took the Word out of the church and into the highways, byways, and street corners. Listening to Jacksonville, Florida, hip hop artist Boo Deezy’s mixtape, Positive Ratchetness Vol. 1, it occurs to me that some are also modern day manifestations of the Biblical prophet. Like Boo Deezy, who has the passion, the platform, the punctiliousness, and the personal experience to speak the truth about what’s happening and ...

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Favour – Fisherman

Favour Fisherman Sharlat Records (2016) www.sharpradiogospelsuperfest.com By Bob Marovich On Fisherman, their six-track EP, Detroit quartet Favour is all about getting you ready…for your blessings, for a miracle, and for the day Jesus returns. Favour is a sweet-singing quartet with the smoothness of Atlantic Starr and the Manhattans, though Shawn Upshaw’s lead vocal incorporates traditional gospel techniques. So do the lyrics, which fit squarely in the quartet mode of preaching, teaching, and in Favour’s case, preparing. Indeed, two songs telegraph preparation in their titles: “Better Be Ready” and “Things are Gonna Happen.” And in “How I Know,” the group sings that ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 20, 2017

“Continuous Praise (Over and Over)” Zion’s Joy! Damascus Road Recording (release date: January 14, 2017) www.zionsjoy.com On “Continuous Praise (Over and Over),” Zion’s Joy!, an eleven-member multicultural gospel group from Indianapolis, evokes Kirk Franklin’s ensembles with its staccato vocals, musical swagger, ear candy hooks, and professional production. It’s a praise song with the zest to lift congregants up out of the pews and into the aisles, especially during the vamp, when the singers move into Friends of Distinction mode and begin singing contrapuntal motives. A workout mix, released in February, accentuates the electronica to optimize aerobic effort. Founded in 2008 ...

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Sandra McCracken – God’s Highway

Sandra McCracken God’s Highway Independent release (release date: September 9, 2016) www.sandramccracken.com By Bob Marovich Modern day hymnist Sandra McCracken’s latest CD, God’s Highway (also available on vinyl), continues where her 2015 Psalms left off: new songs based on Biblical texts and that sound as if they came from the Primitive Baptist Church hymnbook. McCracken’s beguiling voice combines the cry of Beth Nielsen Chapman and the world-weariness of Emmylou Harris. Her lonesome singing combined with an understated combo and songs with heavy chords but bright melodies give listeners a sense of eavesdropping on the prayers of someone emerging, victorious but ...

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“Trust In You” – Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy

“Trust In You” Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy From the forthcoming album A Long Way from Sunday www.tyscot.com Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy burst onto the gospel scene in 2012 with their self-titled album for Tyscot, but really raked in the accolades with their second album, Everyday Jesus.  It took home ten trophies at the 2016 Stellar Awards, including State Farm Song of the Year for “Worth.” The group just released “Trust in You,” the first single from its forthcoming next album, A Long Way from Sunday. The Brown-penned single doesn’t waste any time getting its message of faith across. Within a couple ...

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Leon Triplett – God is in Control

Leon Triplett God is in Control Triplett Records www.TriplettRecords.com By Bob Marovich In the early 1970s, Chicago’s Leon Triplett was making soul records for Curtom/Thomas Records with his twin brother Levi. The Triplett Twins’ 1972 “Pretty Please” even got a second life when it was heard in Big Stone Gap, an Adriana Trigiani-directed film starring Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jane Krakowski. Leon went on to be a songwriter for Brunswick Records and continues to work the circuit. With the seven-track God is in Control, Leon Triplett goes gospel, stamping a ‘70s disco-soul style onto his songs. Swirls of synth ...

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