Reviews

“Ain’t Gonna Whistle Dixie Anymore” – Paul Metsa and Willie Walker feat. Sounds of Blackness

“Ain’t Gonna Whistle Dixie Anymore” Paul Metsa and Willie Walker feat. Sounds of Blackness Rock the Cause Records (release date: August 8, 2018) http://irockthecause.org/aint-gonna-whistle-dixie-anymore-paul-me By Bob Marovich This multi-cultural mashup of genres—think Nitty Gritty Dirt Band meets gospel choir—is the ideal backdrop for a song denouncing white nationalism and its brazen disregard of historic fact and common sense. Reflecting on the memory of recent marches, hate crimes, Nazism, and symbols of the Confederacy, Twin Cities folk singer Paul Metsa, blues singer Willie Walker, and the award-winning Sounds of Blackness declare they “ain’t gonna whistle Dixie anymore.” In a play on the original lyrics ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2018

“Oh How I Love You” Zacardi Cortez Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: March 8, 2018) By Bob Marovich “You see, a man ain’t supposed to cry,” Zacardi Cortez sings on “Oh How I Love You,” but the tears flow anyhow as he delivers lyrics that gush with gratitude to Jesus for, well, everything. And while Cortez admits to falling prey to the very human interest in material things, “at the end of the day,” nothing matters but Jesus. This mid-tempo song opens with a blithe piano and expands into a delicious mix of retro soul and urban AC. Cortez’s vocals ...

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Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing – Totally

Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing Totally Enon Music Group (release date: May 11, 2018) By Bob Marovich What is most interesting about Totally, an album by Enon Tabernacle’s young adult choir Fresh Anointing, is how many older hymns the group includes in the mix. For example, the choir gives “Blessed Assurance” a staccato reading with surges of high-voltage harmonies (though the composer credits should more properly read as by Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp, with the arrangement by Sean Tillery). Fresh Anointing’s 2017 single “Holy Holy” is the liturgical classic given a big and austere treatment fitting for a ...

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PJ Morgan – The Transparency Project

PJ Morgan The Transparency Project 1DMV Music Group (release date: June 1, 2018) By Bob Marovich The Transparency Project is the debut instrumental jazz album from Stellar Award-nominated producer and keyboardist Paul Lawrence Morgan, aka PJ Morgan, who Ben Tankard had named as his music director and is currently band director for the Washington Metro area megachurch, Reid Temple AME. The CD’s first two tracks, “Closer” and “Hit the Floor,” are conventional smooth jazz pieces most notable for Morgan’s nimble keyboard work. After these cuts, the album moves into a more explicitly sacred mood, featuring newly-composed songs with vocals (most of them ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2018

“With All My Heart” Marlon McDaniel M2 Music (release date: August 4, 2016) www.marlonmcdaniel.com By Bob Marovich Accompanied only by piano, gospel singer-songwriter Marlon McDaniel delivers a delicate ballad of praise in “With All My Heart.” The song’s audience-melting sweetness earned the Ohio singer from the Church of God in Christ two Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer: Best Performance by a Male Artist, and Praise & Worship Male Vocalist of the Year. With its lovely melody and uncomplicated lyrics, “With All My Heart” allows so much space for vocal improvisation that gospel singers who hear it will be dying to ...

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Elvis Presley – Where No One Stands Alone

Elvis Presley Where No One Stands Alone RCA / Legacy Recordings (release date: August 10, 2018) www.legacyrecordings.com By Bob Marovich When Elvis Presley became a national sensation in the mid-1950s, there were those who thought he was the devil personified, what with the hip shaking, sneering, and rock ‘n’ roll music. They did not realize that the twisting and sneering phenom from Memphis grew up listening to southern gospel quartet singing on the radio and hung out by New Trigg Baptist Church to hear the choir of the Reverend W. Herbert Brewster. And in December 1956, when Elvis and fellow ...

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Fred Hammond – The Best of Fred Hammond

Fred Hammond The Best of Fred Hammond Verity Records (release date: June 15, 2018) www.verityrecords.com By Bob Marovich With his husky voice and preacher-like confidence in front of a congregation or audience, Fred Hammond is a solid contender for the title Prince of Power Praise. The hour-plus retrospective The Best of Fred Hammond is part of Verity Records’ #WeAreVerity campaign. It focuses on the former member of Commissioned’s catalog since he first recorded for the label back in 1995 as a soloist supported by his group, Radical for Christ. The music chugs along, track by track, thanks to a smart mix of energetic selections and ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 7, 2018

“I Owe God a Praise” Jimmy Hicks & ACOJ From the Blacksmoke Music Worldwide album Waterway (release date: August 4, 2017) By Bob Marovich What I like about Jimmy Hicks is how he can transform a church song into what sounds like a big number from a gospel musical. Hicks and his Voices of Integrity did that with 2006’s “Born Blessed” and “This Kind By Fasting and Prayer.” He has done it again with “I Owe God a Praise,” an effervescent hand-clapper featuring call-and-response with the Apostolic Church of Jesus (ACOJ) Choir and Hicks’s favorite singing duet partner, Diana Hicks. The ...

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Various Artists – God’s Got a Blessing (JDI Records 20th Anniversary)

Various Artists God’s Got a Blessing JDI Records (release date: May 18, 2018) By Bob Marovich In 1998, with $7 in his bank account and a load of student loan debt, James Roberson stepped out on faith and started JDI Records (as in Just Do It). He celebrates the company’s 20th anniversary this year with a greatest hits package called God’s Got a Blessing. JDI has been mining its catalog seven ways to Sunday recently, having released The Essential Beverly Crawford Vol. 2 and JDI Classics – Music for All Occasions. God’s Got a Blessing is the best of the three because despite a ...

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“Weather the Storm” – Dorothy Norwood

“Weather the Storm” Dorothy Norwood Dorothy Norwood Music Group (release date: June 4, 2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dorothynorwood5 By Bob Marovich Evangelist Dorothy Norwood goes into classic storyteller mode as she describes how a Houston, Texas, family is rescued from the roof of their home during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. While the recency of the event undoubtedly touched the live audience, Norwood sees the story as more than recent history: it’s a demonstration of God’s assistance “in the nick of time,” and a chance to shout “Hallelujah” for a successful ending. She peppers the song with lyric snippets about miracles, rejoicing, and joy coming in the ...

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