Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis
EmptyMe Entertainment (release date: July 20, 2018)
By Bob Marovich
Recorded live at Hope Church of Memphis, Super Excited is the latest full-length project by that city’s Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis. For a decade, the rhythm and praise group and its singer-songwriter leader have worked within the high-spirited and dense choral sound of fellow Memphian the late O’Landa Draper.
Super Excited follows the same extroverted musical path as the group’s 2012 Live in Memphis. The album’s eight songs are uncomplicated but their vocal and instrumental arrangements are anything but. The group’s singing is spit-polished and Tharpe’s tenor is burnished with the huskiness emblematic of male gospel vocalists in this post-modern era.
While John P. Kee is a celebrity feature on the power praise piece “Victory,” several other featured vocalists also bear mentioning. One is Tharpe’s own father and namesake, Bishop Vincent Tharpe Sr. He and Chris Williams tear up the vamp to the hymn-like “Redeemed” with growls, shouts, and squalls that move the atmosphere to near praise break intensity. Chakela Ivy’s equally evangelistic contributions to the otherwise understated call-and-response “Able to Heal” and the single, “The Sound,” make for standout moments.
The title track also has radio-friendly components in its ebullient and hooky melody and treble plinking on the keyboards that evokes Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile.”
The most musically interesting song on the album, however, is “Grace,” a balladic reflection produced by Cedric Thompson on how the saving power of grace keeps us alive. The album could have ended there without any loss of momentum, as the shoulder-shaking closer, “Tell It,” is anticlimactic at that point.
Calvin Barnes gives Super Excited major label-level production, and Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis demonstrate in their professionalism the benefits of a decade of singing together.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Redeemed,” “Grace”