I Love Him
JDI Records (release date: September 27, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
The Stellar-nominated songstress Renee Spearman, formerly one-half of the contemporary gospel duo Renee Spearman and Prez, has been working on her own for quite some time. Her first new solo album in seven years, I Love Him, has a battery of producers, a choir directed by Tony Jones, strings, and brass.
All but one of the album’s nine selections come from Spearman’s pen. That one, the relaxed “Having You There,” is by David Curry Jr. of the Mississippi Mass Choir.
While the current single, featuring Pastor Hezekiah Walker and Dr. Holly Carter, is the effervescent but ultimately undistinguished title track, for my money, “Tap Tap,” or “Tap Into It,” depending on the source you reference, is the album’s high point. Spearman’s coquettish vocal is an ideal foil for Dorinda Clark Cole’s full-throttle shouting. Expressly written for Cole, the song, ahem, taps into her Pentecostal roots.
Referencing Psalm 30 (“Joy cometh in the morning”), Spearman’s 2017 single “Good Morning! (You Made It)” is a ballad of hope and encouragement for those living in life’s darkness. “Angels” is a “there but for the Grace of God” moment, as Spearman sings about an auto accident from which she was spared. “Love,” at once a cry for support and a declaration of discipleship, features fine but uncredited acoustic piano work and tight choral support.
“You are God” is the kind of song worship teams use to warm up the congregation. So is “Great God,” though here, the verses move beyond vertical praise to highlight life’s difficulties around which God helps his people navigate.
Somewhat cut from the same traditional cloth as “Tap Into It” is the bonus track, “Breakthrough.” A hand clapper that features call-and-response work between Spearman and the choir, its theme is consistent with several other album tracks—don’t worry, God will bring you through.
While Renee Spearman’s pop-inflected soprano is best suited for ballad-like gospel songs (“Good Morning” is an example), she does well enough on the churchy roof raisers–the kind of songs that have put JDI Records on the map–that I hope she does more of them in the future.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “Tap Into It,” “Good Morning! (You Made It)”