Thank You Jesus
Gold City Music (2015; re-release date: August 11, 2016)
By Bob Marovich
Someone once asked a singer to define the difference between gospel and jazz. The artist answered with two words: the lyrics.
The same can be said about the difference between gospel and pretty much all genres, including R&B and soul. Proof positive: Thank You Jesus, Chris Jasper’s two-CD compilation of his gospel and inspirational material. Jasper, former songwriter, producer, and vocalist for the Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley, presses his retro smooth soul stylings into the service of the Lord.
Some songs are inspirational (“Keep Reaching Higher,” “Faith”), while others are based on Bible stories and teachings (e.g., “Holy Mighty Majesty”). Yet others, such as the title track, are songs of simple gratitude. The common links are that smooth soul vibe, represented by Jasper’s light, floating falsetto and not infrequent Sam Cooke-like yodels; a steady rolling accompaniment complete with electric guitar riffs and chime-y electric piano; and the lyric conversations Jasper has with God that, while personal, are meant for us to overhear.
Naturally, given Jasper’s music experience, most of the selections have a finger-popping quiet storm vibe. “Don’t Take Your Love from Me,” “Glorify You,” and “Praise the Eternal” are great examples, but there’s no ambiguity in the lyrics as to the focus of Jasper’s love and attention: it’s God.
“Without Love” is driven by an infectious soft soul chorus with falsetto harmonies. “Faith” is a shoulder rolling declaration of steadfast belief in Jesus. The hushed “He Walked Alone (The Story of Jesus)” begins at Christmas and ends with Easter, thus making the song appropriate programming for both holidays. “Without Love,” a song about how love is more important than all other human emotions, has Isley-Jasper-Isley harmonies running throughout it. “In My Dream” is a utopian evocation of all people in unity, regardless of their differences.
Thank You Jesus is easy like Sunday morning.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Without Love,” “Faith,” “In My Dream”