Nothing Else Matters (Instead of Complaining, Praise Him)
JDI Entertainment (release date: October 7, 2022)
By Robert M. Marovich
Recorded at Greater Bethel Cathedral in Los Angeles, Nothing Else Matters (Instead of Complaining, Praise Him) finds singer-songwriter Brent Jones completely at ease in the live environment, interacting with the audience, kidding around with the Best Life Choir, exhorting excitedly one minute, somberly devout the next.
If there is a JDI Entertainment style, and I argue there is, it’s a pleasant R&B bounce with call-and-response between lead and choir, and lyrics built on catchy church aphorisms. Nowhere is this more apparent on Jones’s new album than on the title track. It riffs on the “life is challenging but say hallelujah anyhow” sentiment.
The lyric style is also present on the spritely “I Need a Superhero,” which Jones prefaces with a request of the audience to accept implicitly the song’s comic book (specifically Marvel Comics) premise. They do, and Jones and his group go on to sing that not Superman, not Iron Man, not Spiderman, or even the Flash can solve problems like the Lord can.
“So Good to Me,” which Jones calls “a church song,” is a driving worship tune with a 1990s mass choir vibe, right down to its thunderous chord changes. More mellow moments come during “Closer than Close.” Its choral harmonies are dense but embracing, and the arrangement shifts effortlessly into and from the Fanny Crosby hymn, “Draw Me Nearer.”
The team pulls out all the stops on “Help Me Lord,” which begins as a contemporary piece like “Nothing Else Matters” but morphs into a pewburner featuring lead vocals by Freda Travis. An evangelistic aisle walker, Travis shouts and squalls the live audience, and Jones, into the spirit. Notwithstanding the popularity of the title track, this is the album’s high point.
“Thank You Lord” blends Walter Hawkins’ and Andrae’ Crouch’s classics of the same title into one big billowy prayer of gratitude. It leaves the audience shouting, praying out loud, and one possibly slain in the spirit.
The album ends with Jones yielding the mike to a group of teenaged singers called The Fire, who deliver an energetic “Spirit Fall Down.”
Nothing Else Matters is classic Brent “Open Your Mouth and Say Something” Jones. While it doesn’t break new ground, it also doesn’t cede the vibrant gospel goodness one comes to expect from Jones in pursuit of the latest trends. And for that I won’t complain.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “Help Me Lord,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “I Need a Superhero”