Grateful EP (2014)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
Employing street poetry and neo-soul jams, Sean C. Johnson gives listeners a nineteen-minute dose of reality on Grateful, a five-track EP he released in gratitude for his fans’ support.
Johnson is best known for his three-volume Simply a Vessel collection of “neo-soul gospel” with messages that are insightful without being preachy. The EP’s incisive “Shepherd Me” reprises the social commentary of Volume 3’s “MCMX,” but this time the targets of Johnson’s salvo are not badly behaved kids but superficial or false preachers “convincing me that I can breathe underwater / So you can watch me drown.” He calls upon them to “shepherd me.”
Not the Kirk Franklin hit, “Silver and Gold” is a head-shaking indictment of everyone who chases after “foolish gold” rather than embrace the priceless gift of God. Johnson acknowledges that he himself is not perfect, and on the northern soul harmony “I Need It” (“Is this the Five Heartbeats?” someone asks), he expresses his appreciation to God for His willingness to provide grace in spite of our mistakes. The fallibility of humanity and the steadfastness of God, explored on Volume 3’s “Still Breathing,” are overarching themes of “No Never.”
The album’s hip hop infused single, “Thirty (30),” released last year, focuses on temptations of the flesh. As Johnson points out on his website, the Roman numeral for 30, XXX, is also used to identify hard core pornography. He adds that 30 is the number of days it takes to rid oneself of a bad habit, so you can see where this track is going. A provocative but insightful message with a Sho Baraka vibe.
Guess what? You can download a free copy of Grateful from Johnson’s website.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Shepherd Me.”