Reviews

Sue Roseberry – Magnificent God

Sue Roseberry Magnificent God (2013) www.sueroseberry.com By Bob Marovich The notes from the Hammond B3 sounded like Reveille in the morning fog. The organ’s beckoning warble at the opening of track six, “I’m Blessed,” was a sign that we were about to hear the “Mama Sue” Roseberry of BET Sunday Best fame, the solid singer who successfully portrayed her inspiration, Mahalia Jackson, on the stage. That’s not to take away from the handful of songs preceding “I’m Blessed” on Roseberry’s live album, Magnificent God, recorded at the 2013 Gospel Music Workshop of America Board Meeting. They are professionally produced expressions ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 28, 2015

“The Story of Love” 6th Day Made www.6thdaymade.com Wonder what U2 would sound like as a Christian rock band? Look no further than “The Story of Love” by 6th Day Made. Mark Maggard’s thickly layered guitar, Jason Eaton’s tenor vocals hurled skyward, and the marching band rhythm of Randy Healy and Jeff Trent bring the Dublin dynamos vividly to mind. Lyrically, the Michigan band paints a portrait of love as arms stretched outward on a cross and offers an apocryphal message by imploring the listener to “let the world hear, let the world know….it won’t be long.” This is the ...

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“Not That Easy” – Trinity Dawson

“Not That Easy” Trinity Dawson www.trinitydawsonmusic.com Strength against adversity is the theme of Trinity Dawson’s single, “Not That Easy.” Amidst a life filled with twists and turns and problems that “look ten feet tall,” Dawson reaches within to remember that he has heavenly help. The thumping drums, sounding like an accelerated heartbeat, accentuate the intensity of his emotions. The song could well be autobiographical. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trinity Dawson earned a full scholarship to the University of Toledo, where he was a star running back. In his junior year, Dawson suffered a serious injury.  When the NFL was no ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2015

“Love Vs. the World” Xavier O’Connor Testimony Records (2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/xavieroconnor2 With its finger-popping beat and modern big band sound, “Love Vs. the World” pits protagonist Xavier O’Connor against a variety of anthropomorphic emotions, including jealousy, fear, and hate, that invade his space like comic book villains. But alas, just as Jesus defeated Satan, our man whips the negative emotions with that crazy little thing called love. Xavier O’Connor hails from Delray Beach, Florida. A product of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, O’Connor took classical music lessons, and attended a fine arts high school and Oakwood College. He wrote, produced, recorded, ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Heavenly Fire

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Heavenly Fire Ba Da Bing (release date: August 7, 2015) www.ergospelsingers.com By Bob Marovich What originated as a group of friends jamming on old gospel songs distilled into the five-member Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. The Los Angeles group’s full-length debut, Heavenly Fire, declares their earthy conviction for true living through details of personal struggles and Bible tales that sound ripped from the pages of William Faulkner. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers blend alt-country, rockabilly, and gospel into a mix somewhere between Wilco, Neko Case, and the Staple Singers. At the same time, the group’s expansive, extroverted harmonies, fronted by ...

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Kevin Riley – Restored for Worship

Kevin Riley Restored for Worship Kevin Riley Music (release date: July 21, 2015) www.cdbaby.com/cd/kevinriley7 By Bob Marovich What strikes you upon hearing Kevin Riley’s new album, Restored for Worship, is how well the project would work as an Easter cantata. Literally beginning at the beginning, with dramatically-spoken snippets from early Genesis during the first of the Little Rock, Arkansas’ singer-songwriter’s several interludes, Restored for Worship follows the march of time from creation and the dawn of humanity to Jesus’s passion, resurrection, ascension, and the first Pentecost. Riley uses this construct to show how the “plan of redemption” that began before creation ...

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“Holy is the Lord” – Lorraine Stancil

“Holy is the Lord” Lorraine Stancil From the EP Awesome God Anointed Sounds Records www.cdbaby.com/cd/lorrainestancil1 Although Lorraine Stancil has earned a reputation as a fiery gospel singer, as on “Something About that Name” and “Awesome God,” she can deliver anthems with dignity and fullness of tone. “Holy is the Lord” is a good example of her more deliberate side. On this live selection from her Awesome God EP, Stancil hits high notes over the stave like a veteran church singer. Lorraine Stancil is a veteran gospel singer, having worked with Hezekiah Walker and the Love Crusade Choir, Youthful Praise, and ...

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Jonathan McReynolds – Life Music: Stage Two

Jonathan McReynolds Life Music: Stage Two eOne/Tehillah Music Group (release date: September 18, 2015) www.jonathanmcreynolds.com By Bob Marovich Life Music: Stage Two couldn’t be a better showcase for Jonathan McReynolds. The follow-up album to the 26-year-old singer-songwriter-musician’s 2012 debut, Life Music, Stage Two is the musical manifestation of his honest and spiritually grounded approach to dealing with the vicissitudes of daily life. The Chicago-born McReynolds is one of the few gospel solo artists who plays acoustic guitar. His mellow blend of acoustic neo-soul with churchy conviction may be somewhat novel today, but it mirrors the intimacy of his lyrics, which feel like ...

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“Here I Am” – Zaviel Janae

Zaviel Janae Here I Am (2015) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Zaviel Janae Slack (Zaviel Janae) of Atlanta opens her live album, Here I Am, with a blunt and tearful testimony. Her story of how a pregnancy out of wedlock went from bad to worse but ended positively is the kind of mea culpa that leads one to devote her life to God and sacred music. That’s what she’s done. Praise leader, member of neo-soul group Lyrikal, and frequent vocalist with Darwin Hobbs, Zaviel Janae has an expressive, church-filling voice that, like Casey J, Tasha Cobbs, or Kierra Sheard, ...

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“I Survived It” – Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation feat. Joshua Rogers

“I Survived It” Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation feat. Joshua Rogers AMA Productions (release date; September 22, 2015) www.thechosenaggregation.com Sunday Best Season Five champion Joshua Rogers guest solos on “I Survived It,” a neo-traditional choir piece with a rocking chair 12/8 tempo and Joseph Robinson & the Chosen Aggregation contributing thunderous harmonies. Employing a battery of gospel blue notes, Rogers and the choir gratefully acknowledge a journey filled with disappointments, heartaches, trials and tribulations, and the supreme satisfaction of overcoming it all with God’s help. The choir started out in Atlanta in 1993 as Dirk Chaney & the Chosen Aggregation. ...

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