Latisha Johnson Montgomery
Issues of My Heart (EP)
Independent (release date: January 1, 2021)
By Robert M. Marovich
Gospel singer Latisha Johnson Montgomery’s high notes evoke the crackly rawness of Jennifer Hudson. I wouldn’t be surprised if Montgomery finds inspiration in Hudson’s singing, as the latter’s sometimes gruff delivery, along with electronic swagger drawn from pop, R&B, and hip hop, dominate Issues of My Heart.
Following her single, “Take Me Back,” recorded at the iconic Sound of Birmingham Studio—no stranger to gospel over the decades—Issues of My Heart is the Alabaman Montgomery’s debut EP. “Message” is the declaration of a confident Christian—“Jesus Christ is the greatest that ever walked down here”—all to an assertive beat and equally-emphatic vocals. The moodier “I’ll Wait for You,” on the other hand, exposes how the singer’s vulnerabilities require the Savior to brighten the future.
A piano plinking notes like a train crossing signal opens the percussive and musically kaleidoscopic “Eternity.” It is at once a musing on the glory of the Rapture and the warning, a longstanding gospel trope, to not be found wanting when the great day comes. The piano not only returns, more subdued this time, but sticks around to provide the musical foundation for the passionate ballad “Victory over the Enemy.”
The pop-infused title track is the most radio-friendly of the bunch. It mines the Old Testament to show how God’s ability to perform wonders yesterday still happens today. Montgomery sets the song to a thumping, insistent beat, complete with background doo-wops.
The production gives the songs and vocals a three-dimensionality. Overall, it’s a fine debut for Latisha Johnson Montgomery who, with continued perfection of her craft, particularly more diaphragmatic support on the high notes, has the potential to make waves.
Three of Five Stars
Pick: “Issues of My Heart”