Reviews

Various Artists – The Best of Revelation Records: 1959-1962

Various Artists The Best of Revelation Records: 1959-1962 Narro Way Records (released September 16, 2014) www.cityhallrecords.com www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Mention the name Bobby Robinson to popular music historians, and you will hear how he founded a number of New York-based record labels, including Whirling Disc, Fury, Enjoy, and Red Robin, and released classic hits for Wilbert Harrison (“Kansas City”) and Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Every Beat of My Heart”). He even allegedly advised a young vocal harmony group called the 5 Satins on how to approach a record company with a song they had called “In the Still ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 29, 2014

“Alright OK” J Moss PMG Gospel (released May 2014) If Pharrell Williams hit it with “Happy,” the feel good song of 2014, J Moss has the equally peppy “Alright OK.” An acoustic piano introduces a jaunty pop melody as J Moss explains how he focuses on the good and lets the bad roll right off his back. Knowing that God is watching out for him on the sunny as well as the rainy days, he concludes, “I won’t complain even if I could.” Produced by PAJAM, “Alright OK” is the singer’s most engaging single in some time.

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Debra Black – God In Every Season

Debra Black God In Every Season Debra Black Music (released August 2014) www.debrablackmusic.com By Bob Marovich On God In Every Season, Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Debra Black offers up worship songs in a voice that is very easy on the ears and arrangements that are laden with pleasant pop melodies. Black’s voice blends Sarah McLachlan sweetness with the no-nonsense country of Faith Hill, and her lyrics are uniformly positive and warm, the product of a gentle, introspective soul. Praise to a God who is a constant companion sums up the acoustic “I Will Exalt,” and complete surrender to Jesus is the subject ...

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Zie’l – [Pronounced ZY-EL]

Zie’l [Pronounced ZY-EL] Dream Records (release date: September 2, 2014) www.dreamrecords.org By Bob Marovich I first encountered the power trio Zie’l of Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2005 at the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Hearing Christina Bell, Keyondra Lockett, and Crystal Bell sing traditional gospel songs like an old-school quartet with jazz training gave me a glimpse of their future success. Not long thereafter, their CD Genesis garnered a Stellar nomination. The trio’s latest album, [Pronounced ZY-EL], sounds like two albums in one. Six of the ten tracks represent a different style for Zie’l, almost experimental, with a mix of urban AC and ...

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Marilynn Dunn – God Will

Marilynn Dunn God Will Dunn’s Ministries (2014) www.Marilynndunnministries.com By Bob Marovich Singing in choirs since age eight, Marilynn Dunn of St. Louis released her third CD, God Will. It is a collection of personally-penned and personally-arranged compositions as well as covers of familiar gospel and CCM tunes. Dunn’s forte is traditional singing and specifically church selections that are to gospel singers what coloratura arias are to opera sopranos. To wit, Dunn includes two signature favorites among gospel soloists: Dottie Rambo’s “We Shall Behold Him” and Rev. Paul Jones’ “I Won’t Complain.” “I Press” is a bluesy neo-traditional song about one’s ...

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“Take It Easy” – The Soul Messengerz

“Take It Easy” The Soul Messengerz From the 4 Winds Records CD Only The Strong Survive—Live (2014) www.malaco.com Pastor D. B. Coley of the Soul Messengerz tenderly introduces this quartet piece about taking it down a few notches and putting life’s stresses and worries in God’s hands. The soft soul harmonies, major seventh chords, and delicate musicianship wash over the listeners like a spiritual bubble bath. Organized in 2008, the Soul Messengerz of Washington, DC, has as its core members, Pastor Coley, Justin N. Young, Johnny Matthews, Minister Charles A. Young, James Vines, and Gregory Parrish. Their album, Only the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 22, 2014

“Made It Through the Storm” Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir From the Godfather Records album Next Generation Working as both metaphor and a literal celebration of surviving Hurricane Sandy, Pastor David Wright and the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir sing “Made It Through the Storm,” a testament to how they made it through the storm and flood. “This ain’t New Orleans, but we made it through a hurricane, too,” shouts Pastor Wright, as the holy horns of the Seal Breakers, a shout band with roots in the United House of Prayer for All People, give the proceedings ...

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David Daughtry – David Daughtry

David Daughtry Self-Titled Karew Records/eOne Entertainment www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich It is fascinating how gospel music, a genre where the signature sound is brisk and exuberant, can be most beautiful when sung slowly and melodically. David Daughtry includes both the rapid and the measured on his impressive self-titled debut project. Although Daughtry delivers several fine uptempo selections on the album, the worshipful ballads “You Are” and the hypnotic “I Call Your Name” demonstrate his dexterous, earnest tenor. He launches falsetto notes well into the upper register and gets as high as Philippe Wynne (Spinners) on a cover of the Winans’ question-and-answer ...

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“My Inspiration” – Angela “Missy” Billups

“My Inspiration” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment/Missy B. Music (2014) Best known for her churchy traditional songs, Angela “Missy” Billups, accompanied by a background vocal group, delivers a contemporary worship song to express gratitude to God for graces bestowed. She drops a couple of lines of verse from “Total Praise” in the vamp, then concludes, “When I thought was going to lose my mind / God, you stepped in the nick of time.” The song is good and shows that Missy is exploring new territory for her singles, but I much prefer Missy’s traditional side.

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Tammy Smith – Instrument of Praise

Tammy Smith Instrument of Praise www.tammysmithgospel.com By Bob Marovich Instrument of Praise by Chicago’s Tammy Smith sandwiches slices of traditional singing between healthy helpings of contemporary gospel with a smooth jazz patina. Nowhere is this combination more apparent than on the two part “The Blood.” Smith begins by offering Andrae Crouch’s classic “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” in a traditional vein, consistent with the original, then switches to a modern interpretation on the second part. As a singer, Smith possesses a light soprano that becomes even more delicate on the top notes. Her style suits the album’s majority ...

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