Motown Gospel (release date: August 23, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
The nine radio-sized songs on Tunnel Vision, Gene Moore’s second album for Motown Gospel, focus on the importance of keeping the faith and maintaining hope that things will get better. While faith is a staple of Christian belief, it is a mainstay of human life, regardless of religious belief or lack of belief.
The opener and radio single, “Won’t Be Moved,” begins laying out the album’s message of personal encouragement by riffing on the lyric motive of “I Shall Not Be Moved,” the gospel hymn turned civil rights anthem. Grimy guitar, deep thumping bass, tambourine, and a stomp beat feature prominently in the rhythm section, which adds a shoulder-shaking beat to “That God,” another song reminding the listener that He “who created the moon and stars” will help you “in the middle of your worst days.”
The influence of Stevie Wonder on Moore’s craft is especially evident on “Ask for Rain.” Besides more than a hint of Wonder’s frictionless tenor in Moore’s vocal delivery, the song, written by Pastor Jason Nelson, has that liquid texture that characterizes Wonder’s most memorable ballads. It’s a lovely song with a lovely arrangement and it is lovingly sung. Had Stevie collaborated with Walter Hawkins, this is the kind of composition they would have created.
“Depending on You,” the first song Moore wrote for Tunnel Vision, is a dramatic declaration of God’s power to bring His people through. One of the album’s most musically moving tracks, “Depending” also features a hooky chorus. The acoustic guitar-led “Always Jesus” is another expansively sung worship ballad, warm and welcoming and, like “Depending,” a surefire song for worship teams and soloists.
The album’s most magical moment comes at the very end in the guise of a ninety-second snippet of Andrae Crouch’s beloved hymn, “Always Remember.” Moore does some of his finest singing on this brief track, which, bathed in strings, is so beautiful it should have been included in its entirety.
Gene Moore fans will welcome Tunnel Vision, but it is an excellent introduction to those unfamiliar with the work of this singer who cut his gospel teeth working with Shirley Joiner and Carl Preacher and the Southeast Inspirational Choir. Though the messages come from Moore’s personal story, they are universal sentiments of resilience in the wake of life’s burdens.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Ask for Rain,” “Depending on You.”