Marquis Boone Enterprises/Tyscot Records
(released April 21, 2015)
By Bob Marovich
The next best thing to a live gospel music program is listening to a live gospel music program on a recording.
That’s why it was smart for Casey J to release her debut album, The Truth, as a live worship experience. And on home turf: the recording took place on January 30, 2015, at Fresh Start Church in Duluth, Georgia, where Casey is morning worship leader.
Casey J. Hobbs, known as Casey J, is the newest rising star in gospel music. Her debut single, “Fill Me Up,” garnered critical success similar to that earned by Tasha Cobbs for her 2013 hit, “Break Every Chain.” More comparisons to Cobbs will no doubt be forthcoming and for good reason: both women can write praise songs and both exude confidence leading the masses in modern communal worship. Several selections on The Truth, in fact, including a live version of “Fill Me Up,” are basically extended praise moments.
But what really sells The Truth is the ebullience of Casey’s vocal delivery, which oozes with optimism and kinetic energy, even on slower songs, such as the prayerful “I’m Yours” and the new age-y “Your Heart.” Casey’s energy and optimism shine most brightly on the brisk and breezy “Better” and the flowing “Have Your Way,” the latter a duet with Jason Nelson. Nelson’s voice matches Casey’s in compressed strength. They could easily do more together in the future.
On “No Not One,” the album’s sole traditional selection, Casey reminds me of a young Yolanda Adams leading the Southeast Inspirational Choir, though it’s her grandmother, Dorothy Mae Choates, who steals the show by setting the churchy tone.
Although I prefer traditional and contemporary gospel styles over P&W, I give P&W its propers when it is done well. In Casey J’s case, it is done exceedingly well. And that’s the truth.
Bonus: Listen to JGM’s interview with Casey J earlier this year.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “Have Your Way,” “No Not One.”