Quartet is in My DNA
4 Winds / Malaco Music Group (release date: September 10, 2021)
By Robert M. Marovich
On Quartet is in My DNA, the brainchild of Roy Ladson of Roy and Revelation, Paul Porter hosts a passel of current-day gospel singers who dust off classic songs by Ladson’s favorite gospel artists for a down-home, spirit-filled quartet program.
All but Porter and Joseph Wooden lead an A and B selection on this project. Nevertheless, Wooden gets to lead off, and he does so with aplomb on the Soul Stirrers’ “Resting Easy,” complete with dynamic repetitive vamp. Flossie Boyd Johnson sings herself nearly breathless while channeling Maggie Ingram on the up-tempo “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.” The temperature cools when Randy Walker delivers the Highway QCs’ easy-going “Something’s On My Mind,” though he generates heat during a tribute to another QCs group, Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs, on “Good Time.”
Presumably Ladson likes fast songs because the CD has drive-tempo tracks a-plenty, among them “Good Time,” “Resting Easy,” “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” and the Violinaires’ 1988 “Cold Dark Thursday Evening.” Justin Mickens gives the Mighty Clouds of Joy’s “I’ve Got Religion” a jumping reading; it’s the album’s finest selection.
Other quartets saluted on the various artists project include the Pilgrim Jubilees (“Old Ship of Zion”), Tommy Ellison and the Five Singing Stars (“Closer”), and a faithful rendition of the Canton Spirituals hit “Clean Up.” Ladson leads Doc McKenzie and the Gospel Hi-Lites’ “I’m Going on the Other Side” a holiness-fueled ode to the joys of eternity, and teams with Porter on the Gospel Four’s “Never Let Go of Your Hand.” It’s probably no coincidence that passing away dominates an album celebrating the work of quartet’s legends, many of whom are no longer with us.
The album notes list the lead singers, background vocalists, and band members, but the vocalist leading each song is missing from the playlist, making it difficult to know who is on the front mike.
Nevertheless, Quartet is in My DNA is a very fine effort from the team. In the end, you want to revisit the original recordings, not because the artists don’t do an excellent job of covering the classics (they do), but it evokes the kind of nostalgia that whets the appetite for more old time religious music.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “I’m Going on the Other Side,” “I’ve Got Religion”