Reviews

The Recording Collective – Yes and Amen

The Recording Collective Yes and Amen (release date: February 8, 2019) www.therecordingcollective.com By Bob Marovich The Recording Collective is a largely (perhaps intentionally) anonymous ensemble created by MultiTracks.com, a company that has for more than a decade provided churches with Clicks, Loops, and multi-tracks to give their amateur musicians a professional-sounding sonic boost. Yes and Amen in the third volume in the company’s series of albums and EPs designed, according to The Recording Collective’s mission statement, to “be a resource to worship leaders and listeners in multicultural congregations around the world.” Named for the Bethel Worship hit that is among ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 18, 2019

“I’ll Do It For You” The Fantastic Bibletones BTones Music (release date: January 29, 2019) www.thefantasticbibletones.com By Bob Marovich Not the Buffalo, New York, group of yesteryear, this Fantastic Bibletones is a female gospel quartet from St. Louis, Missouri, that sounds like a church-honed Sister Sledge. The ladies’ new single, “I’ll Do It For You,” is a bouncy, cheery ode to discipleship with an infectious rhythm section, fine call-and-response, and a bluesy vamp. Organized in 1971 and active until 1998, after which they took a break from the arduous gospel highway, the Fantastic Bibletones re-energized in 2009. They released two ...

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William Murphy – Settle Here

William Murphy Settle Here RCA Inspiration (release date: March 15, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich William Murphy uses home court advantage to his best advantage on his sixth and latest solo album, Settle Here. Recorded live on a rainy evening at Atlanta’s dReam Center Church, where Murphy is worship leader, Settle Here offers ten superb P&W songs instead of replicating a worship service, warts and all, in lockstep fashion. For example, the album opens not with the almost compulsory cookie-cutter aerobic praise piece but with Christian artist Zach Williams’ dramatic “Chain Breaker.” The song, recorded previously by Angela “Missy” Billups, ...

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“You Deserve My Praise” – M’Renee

“You Deserve My Praise”M’ReneeFrom the EP You Deserve My Praise (2014)www.mreneemusik.com By Bob Marovich “Chosen” might be the single, but the title track of M’Renee’s EP You Deserve My Praise is more memorable.  It is an uncomplicated rhythm and praise offering that bristles with the sunny electronica and perky beat of today’s pop radio. That’s the way the Richmond, Virginia, songstress rolls. Her arrangements tend to be aerobic, the melodies and lyrics optimistic and encouraging. It’s worship and dance music blended into a ball of steady rolling energy. “You Deserve My Praise” is characteristic of her catalog.

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 11, 2019

“Haven’t Seen It Yet” Danny Gokey Sparrow / Capitol Christian Music Group (release date: January 11, 2019) www.dannygokeymusic.com By Bob Marovich After a two-year hiatus, American Idol finalist and CCM star Danny Gokey is back with a new single, “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” The single evokes in melody and arrangement the pop hits of Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, while the lyrics about the force of faith have the kind of dance-ready beat that propelled Jamie Grace’s equally motivational 2014 single, “Do Life Big.” Gokey’s album of the same title is scheduled for release in April.

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“I Need You” – Jermane C. Milton

“I Need You” Jermane C. Milton Harmony House Ministries (release date: April 14, 2017) Available on Amazon By Bob Marovich It may be that Jermane C. Milton’s cover of Shirley Caesar’s “This Joy,” made over with slamming funk bass runs courtesy of James Coleman, is the artist’s single and what earned him a 2018 Rhythm of Gospel Award for Urban Contemporary Male Vocalist, but for my money, it’s his “I Need You” that deserves the attention. A simple, light, piano-led melodic praise ballad whose only fault is a more-than-five-minute length, “I Need You” starts undistinguished enough, but Milton and his ...

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The Golden Gate Quartet – Music Is ? ? ?

The Golden Gate Quartet Music Is ? ? ? Cristal Groupe 2019 www.artisticprod.com By Bob Marovich From the open-ended question that is the title of their new album to the opening track, “Change,” it’s clear that the Golden Gate Quartet is preparing the listener for a different experience. And that’s what the listener gets on the baker’s dozen of selections that comprise Music Is ? ? ?—from traditional quartet to smooth soul/R&B to vocal group harmony. Organized in 1934, the Golden Gate Quartet helped popularize the rhythmic jubilee quartet sound through its many recordings, national radio broadcasts, appearances in films, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 4, 2019

“It’s All About You” Rev. Stef & Jubilation (independent, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/RevStefandJubilation By Bob Marovich The Reverend Dr. Stefanie Minatee, aka Rev. Stef, is back doing what she loves—directing Jubilation, the gospel choir that, among other achievements, backed Queen Latifah on the title track of the GRAMMY Award-winning various artists gospel compilation, Oh Happy Day (EMI, 2009). After recovering from an April 2015 stroke that severely impacted her mobility, Rev. Stef is now preparing the choir for a 20th anniversary performance in June at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It was there that the ensemble formed initially to accompany Evangelist ...

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“A Carol for All Children” – His Love Singers

“A Carol for All Children”His Love SingersOpus One Studios (2018)www.opusonestudios.com By Bob Marovich Alan Salisbury and Whitney Parnell’s “A Carol for All Children” celebrates the religious differences that too often threaten to divide countries.  We are all God’s children, the song reminds, regardless of race or creed. Though the lyrics reference how cultures celebrate holidays differently, this simple, charming carol is not just for the holidays.  The four-track EP includes a gospel and choral version, directed and arranged by Charles Brown and rendered by the full-throated His Love Singers, an austere reading by the Harmony Interfaith Choir recorded live; and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 25, 2019

“Blessing Me” CHurCHicago Independent (release date: February 8, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/Churchicago By Bob Marovich The first couple of singles by CHurCHicago left me regretfully nonplussed, but their latest, “Blessing Me,” is a different story. A drive-tempo selection fitted with a fiery vamp and feisty guitar licks, “Blessing Me” is a plea for continued blessings in spite of our fumbling and failings. Planting their petition firmly in the here and now, CHurCHicago seeks blessings while driving, “sweeping the floor,” “cooking dinner,” “walking through the grocery store,” and even “taking the kids to school.” Nor is their request selfish—they ask for blessings on ...

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