Personal Experience (release date: March 22, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
Rhythm of Gospel Awardee Faithful Connection of Fredericksburg, Virginia, is a gospel quartet that blends elements of traditional gospel singing and lyricism with contemporary instrumentation and bass-heavy beats. They celebrate their tenth anniversary with a new EP, Personal Experience, produced by Richard Davis.
As on the quartet’s 2015 album Thank You, the majority of the tracks on Personal Experience are led by group founder Jonathan Mercer, with cameos and ad-libs by TaWan Gray. The EP’s initial single and opening track, “I Made It,” is a gritty piece of quartet work with funky underpinnings courtesy of the rhythm section, which consists of Anthony Silver on bass, Nathan Silver on electric guitar, Gabriel Armstead on keys, and group manager JaLil Brown on drums.
Equally effective is “Work on Me,” a drive-tempo selection propelled by a strong backbeat and an exciting quartet vamp that makes it one to see live. “Through Your Eyes” is a harmonic ballad with elastic lead vocalizing designed to appeal to fans of today’s charting gospel music. Like Margaret Douroux’s “I’m Glad,” the quartet members are thankful for being important in the sight of God because their fellow men are way too judgmental: “I’m glad God doesn’t see me through your eyes,” they sing.
A slow and smooth contemporary arrangement of the spiritual “Standing in the Need of Prayer” contains alternating flowing and shouting lead work. “In the Morning” is another smooth selection; it references Psalm 30:5 (“Joy cometh in the morning”) for its explanation of trials as tests of one’s faith: “Don’t let it get you down / God is about to turn things around.”
The southern soul quartet pieces like “Work on Me” and “I Made It” are the EP’s most interesting offerings, though “Through Your Eyes” has radio potential. Whether or not Personal Experience is autobiographical for the members of Faithful Connection, the messages of hope, encouragement, and victory are certainly someone’s reality.
Four of Five Stars
Pick: “Work on Me”