Reviews

TBGB Pick of the Week: July 7, 2014

“Amazing Worth” Charles Butler & Trinity feat. Jeremiah Hicks From the EPM Music Group CD Better www.epmmusicgroup.com Gospel enthusiasts first became aware of Washington, DC’s Charles Butler & Trinity when the ensemble backed Earnest Pugh on his 2009 hit, “Rain On Us.”  In February 2013, the group released its debut album, Better, on Pugh’s EPM Music Group imprint. “Amazing Worth” is the latest single release off of Better.  While the song follows Pugh’s formula for delivering graceful P&W anthems, the passion of the singers is what sells it. Together with the musicians, Jeremiah Hicks and Trinity eke every ounce of ...

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“Worthy God” – M. Roger Holland

“Worthy God” M. Roger Holland From the forthcoming GIA CD Building Up the Kingdom www.giamusic.com M. Roger Holland gives what could be just another P&W ballad a richness through a nuanced arrangement complete with strings, background vocalists, canny melodic changes, and expert use of dynamics.  His voice is a mix of Luther Vandross and Peabo Bryson (two of his inspirations), especially at the song’s apex.  His tenor nearly leaps out of the speakers when he holds notes and leaps into falsetto. The musicality is not surprising.  In addition to vocalist, Holland is a pianist, organist, composer, arranger, and symphony director.  ...

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“Jesus Can Work It Out” – Pastor Greg Harris

“Jesus Can Work It Out”Pastor Greg Harris Sabbath Day Records www.sabbathdayrecords.com Not the more famous Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer/Christian Tabernacle song, this “Jesus Can Work It Out” articulates the same message nonetheless.  Little Rock, Arkansas’ Pastor Greg Harris extols Jesus as the best doctor and the best lawyer.   Harris interpolates a line from Dianne Williams’ classic vamp for the Cosmo version, but the rest of the song is his.  A thump beat and backing vocal group give the song a quartet feel.  Earthy.

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TBGB Pick of the Week: July 1, 2014

“All of My Help” North Carolina Community Choir feat. Luther Barnes From the 4 Winds Records CD A Story To Tell www.malaco.com The North Carolina Community Choir does it again.  The choir’s latest single, “All of My Help,” is another example of how traditional gospel music structure never goes out of style.  That’s because it stirs up deep-seated emotions, from the meaty lyrics and hefty harmonies to the measured church melody, 12/8 rocking chair rhythm, and warbling B3.  Luther Barnes’s lead and the choir’s response build to a strong conclusion guaranteed to get arms waving and saints to shouting. The single ...

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Tim Spady & Inspiration – Just Believe

Tim Spady & Inspiration Just Believe Tspady Music Productions (released May 27, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Songwriter and keyboardist Tim Spady’s new album, Just Believe, is a compilation of songs, most of which deal with faith, endurance, overcoming, and victory through the simple but often difficult act of unquestioning belief. Spady’s calling card is his melodicism: inventive and hypnotic on the opening track, “Joy Will Come in the Morning,” and bursting with scrumptious harmonies on the single, “You Give Me.”  His gospel music contains as much pop-classical influence as it does R&B and soul.     Members ...

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Jay Bratten – Hymns My Way

Jay Bratten Hymns My Way Jay Bratten 2014 www.cdbaby.com/cd/jaybratten By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog On Hymns My Way, bassist Jay Bratten, his fellow musicians, and a team of guest vocalists offer an hour of instrumental and vocal rearrangements of well-known hymns and gospels that represent the foundation of church music.  The album chugs along from one track to the next, alternating between smooth jazz, new age, easy listening, fusion, and contemporary gospel.  The blend works despite the variation in styles. “Leanin’,” known also as “What a Fellowship,” is a pick-me-upper with an Earth Wind & Fire meets ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: June 23, 2014

“Hello Sunshine” Kyla Jade (released May 23, 2014) www.kylasings.com For her debut solo single, Kyla Jade, lead vocalist for Dr. Bobby Jones’ Nashville Super Choir, revisits “Hello Sunshine,” the late 1960s hit for the choirs of Jessy Dixon and Rev. Maceo Woods.     It’s an excellent choice for Kyla’s friendly, expansive soprano.  She rides the melody like a surfer on a wave, navigating its ebbs and flows through to the denouement. Some gospel purists may grimace at the bouncy contemporary arrangement, but keep in mind how modern “Hello Sunshine” was when it came out more than 40 years ago.  Nevertheless, ...

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Elain Thomas – Songs in the Key of Jazz

Elain Thomas Songs in the Key of Jazz (2013) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Despite the well-worn argument about “devil’s music” vs. “God’s music,” gospel and jazz and blues—and now rock, soul, R&B and pop—are intertwined, fruits from the same musical tree.  Elain Thomas’ self-produced Songs in the Key of Jazz employs a smooth jazz patina, and a dab of small combo intimacy, to express inspirational messages through this popular medium. Thomas’s vocals are breezy, light, relaxed.  Sometimes she likes to leap around the stave, hitting notes with staccato force like a hammer to a xylophone, as ...

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“I’m More Than a Conqueror” – Ajaay Swindell & Company

“I’m More Than a Conqueror” Ajaay Swindell & Company www.ajaayswindell.com As much affirmation as prayer, “I’m More Than a Conqueror” is a hard-hitting, rock-fueled contemporary gospel that encourages the listener to remain steadfast in belief.  It is performed in the style of James Fortune & FIYA, with lead vocalist Ajaay Swindell interjecting spoken declarations as the six-member vocal ensemble maintains the melody.  Ajaay Swindell hails from the same family that produced the famous Swindell Brothers, a popular gospel quartet and recording artists of the 1950s and 1960s.

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Shirlene Jackson – Wow

Shirlene Jackson Wow CRNI (2011) Available at CD Baby By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Wow is a self-produced five-track EP by Shirlene Jackson of New Edinburg, Arkansas.  A capable gospel singer who proved her merit in 2005 by winning the Gospel Talent Showcase in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jackson’s calling card is lofting soprano notes over the musical fence when the spirit moves her.  More than any other track on the EP, her debut solo project, Jackson shows what she can do on “I Found Jesus.”  Written by Darrell McFadden of Disciples fame, “I Found Jesus” has the ...

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