Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: December 30, 2014

“Can You Feel His Glory” foreverJONES From Prayer Tools, Vol. 1 (released November 2014) www.foreverjones.com Turns out that the shortest song on the two-and-a-half-hour Prayer Tools Vol. 1 by foreverJONES is the best. With only piano and organ as accompaniment, Djeniele evokes the majesty of yesterday’s church soloists with her flawless reading of her brother Judah Jones’ s “Can You Feel His Glory.” From its hushed opening and D’jeniele (Jones) Hooten’s increasingly expansive vocals to the achingly beautiful conclusion, this exquisite jewel of a hymn—one of the finest released this year—demonstrates how less is more.

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J Moss – Grown Folks Gospel

J Moss Grown Folks Gospel PAJAM (released November 25, 2014) www.pajam-music.com/jmoss.html By Bob Marovich The next generation of Detroit’s Clark-Moss gospel dynasty is growing up. For J Moss, son of Bill and Essie Moss, that doesn’t mean he’s embracing his parents’ traditional gospel style.  His music is just settling down, embracing a soft R&B quiet storm kind of pacing, and his lyrics becoming more contemplative. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Grown Folks Gospel is J Moss’s most mainstream effort to date. It grapples with a world in which there are more questions than answers.  Album cuts such as ...

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Whosoever South – Come On In

Whosoever South Come On In Elevate Entertainment (released October 7, 2014) www.whosoeversouth.com By Bob Marovich Whosoever South is one of the most innovative Christian groups of the decade. The trio’s self-proclaimed “country crunk” style blends elements of rootsy Americana and country with deep groove bass, gospel, and hip hop. Think Mumford and Sons meets Arrested Development. Whosoever South is husband-and-wife team Rowdy and Sarah Eunice, and Mike Mitchell; all hail from Georgia. Vocally, Rowdy delivers the country feel, Sarah raps, and Mike sounds like Darius Rucker.  The group’s sophomore effort, Come On In, is equal parts evocation of southern country ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 24, 2014

“Lord I Just Wanna Thank You” Pastor Tyrone Jefferson From Taking It Back to Church (2013) www.cdbaby.com/cd/pastortyronejefferson The title of Pastor Tyrone Jefferson’s album is Taking It Back to Church, and that is exactly what he does on the high-spirited “Lord I Just Wanna Thank You.” Jefferson puts his preacher’s whoop to work on this church-wrecking choir song with traditional quartet-style lyrics of gratitude. It’s a hand-clapping, tambourine-shaking good time. Pastor Tyrone G. Jefferson Jr., a young man with an old soul, is founder and pastor of Abundant Life Tabernacle Church, a Full Gospel Baptist Church on Franklin Avenue in ...

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Eddie James – Shift

Eddie James Shift Fresh Wine Records (2012) www.ejworship.org By Bob Marovich Back in the day, recorded black sacred music was restricted by its medium. The brittle 78 rpm and its cooler cousin, the 45 rpm record, gave singers and musicians about four minutes per side to get their message across. The LP expanded things a little, offering as much as an hour of music. Today, a two-disc CD set enables artists to provide nearly three hours of almost uninterrupted listening. The latter is what singer-songwriter and minister Eddie James has employed for Shift. This 2-CD pocket-sized worship service is produced in the ...

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JGM Christmas Pick of the Week: December 22, 2014

“Tis the Season for Miracles” Tarralyn Ramsey Nylarrat/Heartstrings Music (2014) www.tarralynramsey.com Tarralyn Ramsey translates the wonderment of Christmas  into a word of encouragement to people who don’t need presents under the tree—they need real miracles in their lives. Embellishing the melodramatic melody with melismatic runs from the Whitney Houston toolkit, Ramsey reminds the downhearted to keep steadfast in their belief: “Tis the season for miracles, tis the season for breakthrough.” Ramsey launches a note towards the end that is so high it may have taken out a star or two on its trajectory northward. Tarralyn Ramsey is a recording artist and the winner of the ...

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Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal – Talkin’ Christmas

Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal Talkin’ Christmas Sony Masterworks (2014) www.sonymasterworks.com By Bob Marovich Like the Chieftains, the Blind Boys of Alabama have been embraced by some of today’s hippest rock and roots musicians. On Talkin’ Christmas, the gospel quartet that is now an American icon celebrates the holidays with musical polymath Taj Mahal. Mind you, this is not the first time the Blind Boys have tackled the Christmas canon. That was 51 years ago, when the group was on Vee Jay Records. They and then-label mates the Swan Silvertones, Charles Taylor, and others delivered fairly standard versions of ...

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Marcel Anderson – Still Living

Marcel Anderson Still Living Marcel Anderson Music (2014) www.marcelanderson.com By Bob Marovich You’ve heard the saying, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” Marcel Anderson doesn’t look or sound like what he’s been through. The title of Anderson’s CD is not hyperbole. His story, starkly presented in the accompanying book of the same title, is one of surviving a brutal attack that included severe sexual abuse. Despite the scars, he does not dwell on the past but lofts hallelujahs, in a handsome, elastic baritone voice, for surviving, and focuses on moving forward in his personal and spiritual journey. Still ...

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“Flow” – Jonathan Valencia

“Flow” Jonathan Valencia From the CD Kingdom Bound www.jonathanvalenciamusic.com This teenaged Rhythm of Gospel Award winning and Stellar nominated artist is better known for his Christian rap, “Kingdom Bound,” but he also sings. On “Flow,” a simple, atmospheric song with techno overtones, Jonathan calls on the Holy Spirit to pour into him so much that the blessings overflow. The innocent vulnerability in Jonathan’s voice suggests that behind the rap bravado is the fragility of childhood that we all carry around but are afraid to show the world.

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 14, 2014

“Gonna Tell the World About You” Eddie Ruth Bradford From the CD Blessed to Be a Blessing www.eddieruthbradfordmusic.com Eddie Ruth Bradford’s latest single is deliciously old-school, complete with whirring organ, funky backbeat, and multi-tracked quartet of voices on the chorus. By referencing Bible stories that demonstrate Jesus’s ability to give eyesight to the blind and heal the sick, she sends encouragement to listeners struggling through life’s trials. Bradford evokes Mavis Staples with her world-weary contralto, as does the deep and rootsy arrangement supporting her. The Stellar-nominated Bradford hails from Clarksville, Mississippi. She sang with her family group as a child and had dreams of singing gospel ...

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