Reviews

The Golden Bells – Thank You

The Golden Bells Thank You www.TheGoldenBells.com By Bob Marovich Much of Thank You, the latest full-length CD release by the Golden Bells of Lexington, Mississippi, is a refashioning of traditional gospel staples into the modern quartet style. Even when the songs are newly-composed and the music meets today’s gospel quartet standards, they retain the old church character in their lyric content. For example, on “Say Something Good,” the Golden Bells prefer to turn the other cheek to their haters, but by reviving some of grandma’s well-worn words of wisdom (“What goes around comes back again”), the group confirms the wisdom ...

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“Hallelujah” – Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender

“Hallelujah” Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender (release date: December 10, 2017) http://www.writersfoundationllc.org/ By Bob Marovich “Hallelujah” is part confessional, part praise song, part CCM, and part gospel. In her lovely soprano, Alicia Bender, a classically-trained singer and former member of the Howard Gospel Choir, sings Ben Harrell’s hymn about the reciprocal love between God and His people. The chorus, of which the first four notes evoke Leonard Cohen’s song by the same title, is ideal for a worship team singalong. Tunesmith Harrell has also written songs demonstrated by Summer Pearson and Paul Thompson. A number of songwriters, in fact, have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 22, 2018

“Church Medley II” Syreeta Thompson Trumpetlady From the CD Evolution of a Winner (release date: September 15, 2017) www.trumpetlady.com By Bob Marovich At one time, brass instruments in the service of God were found only in Pentecostal and Spiritual churches and, of course, in the famed shout bands of the United House of Prayer for All People. But times have changed and trumpets, saxophones, and all sorts of instruments are welcome at nearly every type of church. Still, there are few female brass players in gospel music. Syreeta Thompson is one. The Grammy Award-winning, Billboard-charting and Stellar Award-nominated Thompson pays homage to ...

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Imari Tones – Jesus Wind

Imari Tones Jesus Wind (release date: November 7, 2017) https://imaritones.bandcamp.com/album/jesus-wind By Bob Marovich If you are not familiar with the Imari Tones, they are a Christian heavy metal band from Japan. Their latest release, Jesus Wind, is a concept album about the development of Christianity in Japan, a largely Buddhist nation. Although I listened to heavy metal in my youth, I never paid much attention to the lyrics, so it took some acclimation for me to get to the kernel of the message on Jesus Wind (the lyrics are, with rare exception, in English). What I distill from Jesus Wind is this: the group weaves ...

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Gene Moore – The Future

Gene Moore The Future Motown Gospel (release date: July 28, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich It doesn’t take hearing gospel artist Gene Moore singing “Summer Soft” to feel Stevie Wonder’s inspiration throughout Moore’s EP, The Future. “Summer Soft” is the bonus track on a project that has a Wonder feel all over it (sans harmonica), especially during its more rhythmically animated tracks. And it’s available on Motown Gospel, so there’s that connection to Wonder’s roots, also. Moore’s voice, like Wonder’s, is handsome, flexible, and melodic. Yet it is only when he is singing with a minimum of accompaniment, as on the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 16, 2018

“He Rose” Brent Jones From the EchoPark JDI Entertainment album Joy Comin’ (release date: August 12, 2014) By Bob Marovich Calling “He Rose” a “good old Baptist song,” Brent Jones and his choir offer a good old Easter Sunday song that works for any time of the year. This bouncy and muscular outing finds Jones leading the big-voiced choir in collective enthusiasm about Jesus’s victory over death during the Passion and, in rising, cleansing the sins of humanity. By the conclusion, Jones has the soprano, alto, and tenor sections singing in contrapuntal harmony (it’s so good they could have reprised this ...

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“Forever” – Jason Nelson

“Forever” Jason Nelson From the CD The Answer RCA Inspiration (release date: January 12, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich A song birthed as an improvisational line sung by Jason Nelson’s wife Tonya in their kitchen has become the first radio single from the singer-songwriter and pastor’s forthcoming CD, The Answer. “Forever” is a passionately sung melodic ballad, from God’s point of view, on the constancy of His support and the extent of His love. “Forever is a long time / But that’s how long I’ll love you,” Nelson and his background vocalists sing. “No matter what you face, you won’t ...

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Dr. Timothy D. Poston – Churchin’ on the Hammond B3 Organ “Live”

Dr. Timothy D. Poston Churchin’ on the Hammond B3 Organ “Live” Jeremiah Praze Records (2007) By Bob Marovich Bay Area music minister and organist Dr. Timothy D. Poston’s Churchin’ on the Hammond B3 Organ “Live” may be several years old but, like the hymns he presents and the instrument he plays them on, it’s ageless. Even those only tangentially familiar with church hymnody will know the names of most, if not all, of the fourteen or so selections on the album. “Father I Stretch My Hands to Thee.” “How Great Thou Art.” “Pass Me Not.” “Precious Memories.” “The Old Rugged Cross.” Many ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 8, 2018

“God is in Control” Kerri Gordon Independent Release (release date: July 27, 2017) www.kerrigordon.com By Bob Marovich Kerri Gordon’s debut single, “God is in Control,” is a let-go-and-let-God ballad sung from the point of view of someone who has realized this personally—as a single parent raising three children, one with special needs. “I tried it on my own,” Gordon sings, but “I made up my mind, whatever comes. . .He has it all in control.” She and her background vocalists then repeat the message to benefit listeners feeling the same impatience and disappointment. The musicians give the song a laid back but ...

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Horizon Music – Victory

Horizon Music Victory Maranatha! Music/Capitol Records (release date: October 13, 2017) www.horizoncommunity.church/music By Bob Marovich “What if worship music could be done so well with mainstream pop sounds, that it became interesting to those who haven’t been willing to listen before?” asked Lead Pastor Stan Russell of Horizon Community Church in Tualatin, Oregon. Horizon Music’s debut album Victory, crisply produced by Dave Lubben (Kutless, Hollyn) and Aaron Russell, is the church music ministry’s response to its pastor’s call. The album’s dozen radio-sized selections feature vertical praise lyrics wrapped in chilly, atmospheric Hillsong-meets-Neon Indian electronica with some acoustic moments. While tracks such ...

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