Camdon Music (June 17, 2014)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
Sister of gospel star Pastor Donnie McClurkin, singer-songwriter Andrea McClurkin-Mellini is no newcomer to gospel music. She was a member of the McClurkin Singers and a charter member of the New York Restoration Mass Choir. She penned the title track to the family’s 2007 Gospocentric album, We Praise You. Still, Higher represents her first full-length solo album, and it is an accomplished debut.
“God Can,” written by Pastor Donnie, is the album’s radio-friendly single, a song of faith and encouragement with plenty of shoulder swaying swagger.
The album shifts back and forth between rhythm and praise selections such as “God Can,” “Have Your Way,” and “I Will Lift Up Your Name,” and acoustic or more delicate ballads, such as “He Is Good” and the opener, “Are You Washed in the Blood.” The latter’s lush orchestral arrangement is the ideal setting for this hymn, and Andrea’s reading of it is exquisite. To borrow a phrase from the late DJ Alan Freed, it’s almost too pretty for radio.
Andrea tosses in some bluesy licks on “He’s Always On Time,” a song of thanksgiving for “present help in time of trouble.” The background vocalists play congregation to Andrea’s preacher on this track and elsewhere on Higher. In contrast, “The First Noel” reprises the orchestral feel of “Washed” and focuses the spotlight on Andrea’s captivating solo.
The album’s multilayered and crystal clear production is a clinic on how to produce a gospel CD. Released last month on Donnie’s Camdon Music label, Higherdemonstrates what many of us have known all along: Andrea McClurkin-Mellini is a stone singer in her own right.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “God Can,” “Are You Washed in the Blood.”