Tyscot Records (available October 18, 2011)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.
Shirley Murdock invigorates her first live recording, Live: The Journey, with the atmosphere of an old fashioned revival.
Live: The Journey finds Murdock sassily interjecting Shirley Caesar-style evangelism and mother wit before, during and after song selections. One can almost feel Murdock cuddling in with her audience to comfort, caution, empathize with, and exhort them all to higher ground. Her down-to-earth, straight talk is complemented by bluesy gospel readings of selections, such as the sweetly soulful “It’s In Your Hands,” which guides listeners over the rough patches by telling them to put their troubles in God’s hands.
An abundance of powerful female vocalists stops by to assist Murdock, most notably Beverly Crawford, who on the rollicking “He is the Rock” delivers what Murdock calls “good old hand-clapping, foot-stomping church.” Yes, indeed: by the conclusion, the assemblage teeters on the edge of a praise break.
Another of Murdock’s girlfriends, Regina Belle, blends her bluesy vocals to Murdock’s on “Upward Way,” and Kelly Price takes the platform on “Keep Lovin’ Me.”
On “Lord You Reign,” Murdock turns to a cool-down, hypnotic praise and worship mode, followed by the contemporary “Rejoice Come On.” Both seemed out of place in an otherwise churchy atmosphere, and I wondered what was to come next. My apprehension was sated when Murdock returned to the gutsy on “God Can Do Anything,” which riffs on the old church saying that “God can do anything but fail.”
Several inspirational ballads round out the project. “Dream,” the current single, is joined by the encouraging “Winner in Me.” “Someday” features les quatre femmes – Murdock, Crawford, Price and Belle – seeking world cooperation during these days of social ills. The four harmonizing on stage together provides enough energy to run a small town for one day, and suggests they take their gospel show on the road as the female variation of the famed “Three Tenors.”
Live: The Journey is given solid and sensitive production by Cedric Thompson and while I would have liked to have heard louder crowd responses throughout the project, the companion DVD should provide plenty of audience visuals.
Shirley Murdock is a lovable gospel singer and her effusive personality and genuine spirit shine through on Live: The Journey.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Dream,” “He is the Rock.”