A New Song
Jordan Line Music (2019)
By Bob Marovich
At the Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer, a distinguished-looking bearded gentleman named Jesse Cann sat down at a keyboard. In the midst of a musical program featuring thunderous choirs, ecstatic groups, and spirited singers, he offered up an unassuming but nevertheless earnest solo. The audience loved it.
Later, Cann, a cancer survivor, took home the Special Event / Instrumental Artist of the Year Award.
Cann’s latest album, A New Song, does include an instrumental track and highlights his talent on keys, flugelhorn, and trumpet, but it is a vocal album of original compositions. He sings with a humble conviction and, when he is not peppering the lyric lines with blue notes, evokes country crooners Jim Reeves and a 1970s-era Ray Price.
While story songs like “Bound for the Promised Land” and “Jesus is My Song” have an easygoing country ballad sensibility, the encouraging “God Will Be There” contains a touch of northern soul, thanks to Emily Rudolph’s backing vocals, Willis Greenstreet’s tenor sax, and Cann’s trumpet. “Hold Tight to the Master’s Hand” is a gospel blues packed with Biblical references that illustrate the power of Jesus to make a way out of no way. The title track, “Unending Rhapsody,” and “Land of Enchantment” sway with a relaxed Latin rhythm. The melody on the latter, a celebration of the beauty of the American Southwest, also has Latin elements in its DNA.
“Song of Praise” is a lovely hymn that I can hear many artists and choirs bringing into their repertory. Same goes for Cann’s Christmas song, “Rose of Sharon.” Both are the album’s best examples of the singer’s songwriting skills.
Special kudos to Wes Chappell, whose harmonica endows several selections with a winsome melancholy.
The album would have been even stronger had Cann tossed a couple of classic hymns or gospels in the mix, and used the fine Promise choir from First Baptist Church of Roanoke, Virginia, more often. Nonetheless, the sincere spirituality of Jesse Cann shines from start to finish.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “Song of Praise,” “Rose of Sharon”