Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: January 21, 2019

“Take Care of You” C. J. Taylor & Men of Fellowship From the CD He Made a Way (release date: September 9, 2018) https://cjtaylor.org/ By Bob Marovich “Take Care of You” is a drive-tempo selection from C. J. Taylor & Men of Fellowship, a quartet of young men with old souls when it comes to traditional gospel music. The song is about the earthly and heavenly benefits of living right and praying right. To hammer home the point, Taylor and the group offer the biblical story of the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43). All told, the song ...

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Da’ T.R.U.T.H. – Vet (EP)

Da’ T.R.U.T.H. Vet (EP) Independent (release date: November 9, 2018) Available on all digital platforms By Bob Marovich Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s EP Vet is a musical memoir designed to bring fans of the Christian rapper up to date on what he’s been doing since his last release two years ago. But more importantly, Vet is T.R.U.T.H. venting from the get-go about the reason for his absence: the spiritual cost of chasing commercial success. On “The Prologue (Where You Been),” he expresses a profound disillusionment with the music business. Seeking to get back “to a time when it wasn’t about the numbers,” ...

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Moving Forward and Facing the Future in the Black Church Worship Experience – Dr. Antonia M. Arnold-McFarland

Moving Forward and Facing the Future in the Black Church Worship Experience. By Dr. Antonia M. Arnold-McFarland. EFlat Major Productions, 2018. 155pp. (softcover). Appendices. ISBN 9-781732-336506 By Bob Marovich An engineer by training, Dr. Antonia Arnold-McFarland earned certification in Six Sigma, a process improvement technique developed at Motorola in 1980. As a practitioner and consultant in music and worship arts ministry, she had an idea: what if the principles of Six Sigma could be applied to improve the effectiveness of African American church music ministries? After all, people are people, whether in the church or on the factory floor, and ...

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“It’s Like Fire” – Lady Bartee

“It’s Like Fire” Lady Bartee BRG Records (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/ladybartee By Bob Marovich Lady Bartee sounds a little like Janelle Monae or the late Amy Winehouse on the amalgam of sonic intensity that is her latest single, “It’s Like Fire.” Raised Pentecostal, Bartee knows a thing or two about Holy Ghost fire, and she expresses it with barely restrained passion on this haunting and atmospheric minor-keyed song. Less a melody than a repeated riff that ebbs and flows in intensity, “It’s Like Fire” marches fearlessly forward and ends with sky-raking crackles of thunder that presuppose the lightning. A native of Poughkeepsie, ...

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“I Wanna Know You” – Intimate Praise

“I Wanna Know You” Intimate Praise From the Downbeat Records CD I Wanna Know You (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/IntimatePraise By Bob Marovich The California gospel duo Intimate Praise, comprised of Allyson Ross Moses and Dennis Flannigan, lives up to its moniker on “I Wanna Know You.” From their album of the same title, this love song to the Lord has that cozy California sound, complete with delicate taps of cymbals and sound effects of chirping birds straight out of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You.” The soft, alluring melody and arrangement evoke smooth soul/R&B duos of the 1980s, though the lyrics make it plain that ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 8, 2019

“Go” Trin-i-tee 5:7 From the DarkChild Music CD A Project of Healing (2018) By Bob Marovich In the context of A Project of Healing, Fred Jerkins’ various artists CD from which it comes, “Go” represents more than a reunion of Angel and Chanelle of Trin-i-tee 5:7. It also represents, in lyric and arrangement, the unsettling emotions that come with moving forward on faith. The ladies are like two voices in one’s head, trying to come to terms with the shock of the present and the uncertainty of the future. Jerkins and DarkChild Gospel’s various artists album is as much a bear ...

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“Going” – Christina Bell

“Going” Christina Bell Malaco Music Group (2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich When I first heard the Shreveport, Louisiana, female gospel group Zie’l singing a Ward Singers classic a cappella at the 2005 Gospel Music Workshop of America, I knew then it would be a group to watch. Though Zie’l tended to favor the smooth-and-sassy style of Virtue on their Genesis and Pronounced ZY-EL albums, their finest moments came when they worked within gospel’s firm foundations, such as on “Purify Me,” “Surely God is Able,” and “Is My Living in Vain.” Nevertheless, they always sounded better live. One of the principal ...

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Will Downing – The Promise

Will Downing The Promise Shanachie Entertainment (release date: November 30, 2018) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Listening to R&B crooner Will Downing’s first gospel album, The Promise, is like hearing Peabo Bryson, George Benson, or Al Jarreau making a sacred album. It’s not surprising. Called “The Prince of Sophisticated Soul,” Downing has been melting hearts with interpretations of top-selling R&B songs since his debut self-titled album in 1988. For a long time, Downing’s mother had wanted him to make a gospel album, but when the singer was diagnosed with an illness called Polymyositis that almost took his life, he made the ...

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Earl Bynum – This Song is for You

Earl Bynum This Song is For You Lrae Entertainment / Tyscot Records / HBK Media (release date: October 5, 2018) www.EarlBynumMusic.com By Bob Marovich Gospel music enthusiasts can be forgiven if they are so accustomed to hearing Minister Earl Bynum appearing with the Mount Unity Choir of Chesapeake, Virginia, that they forgot he is also a solo recording artist. This Song is For You is Bynum’s third solo album and first in nearly a decade. It showcases his meaty, muscular male voice, a sound that dominated gospel music until recent years, though the trend among males now seems to favor ...

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“Turn Right and Go Straight” – Roscoe Robinson

“Turn Right and Go Straight” Roscoe Robinson ABKCO Music & Records (release date: June 29, 2018) By Bob Marovich On the subject of veteran travelers of the gospel highway, Roscoe Robinson has been singing gospel quartet, with a notable side trip as a national soul artist, since the early 1950s. “Turn Right and Go Straight” is Robinson without his recent quartet, the Birmingham Blind Boys, and with a roadhouse band, rocking electric guitar riffs, and righteous background vocalists.  In solid voice, Robinson employs travel directions as a metaphor to help the sinner guide his way to “the pearly gate.” The ...

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