Tyscot Records (released April 22, 2014)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
Deitrick Haddon and Tyscot Records want to bring the choir back.
To make manifest their pledge, they’ve released Deitrick Haddon’s LXW (League of Xtraordinary Worshippers). The album not only celebrates the youthful verve of the gospel choir but features the talent of some of today’s most acclaimed directors.
The League of Xtraordinary Worshippers sounds like a team of superheroes—indeed, those who purchase a hard copy of the DVD get an LXW comic book—but it’s a choir led by Haddon. And it’s an excellent choir, too, blending traditional and contemporary choral technique in a way that would make the late Rev. James Cleveland smile in approval.
Recorded live at the City of Refuge in Los Angeles, the album opens with the single, “Great God,” with its insistent tempo and pounding beat, but with the tinkling of ragtime gospel piano, the mood transitions to church with the high-spirited audience rouser, “Just Like He Said He Would.” To a Holiness tempo and the old-school squalls of Clareta Haddon-Jackson, the choir warns “ready or not, He’s coming back.” The performance leads to an an extended praise break that features hypnotic quartet-style guitar licks.
“With God,” led with zest by Tiffany Morrier, fills the auditorium in the same way that the Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir projects of the 1970s and 1980s did. “We Need Your Power,” led by Pastor Hezekiah Walker, and “God Stepped In,” directed by Ricky Dillard, also recall the 1980s choir revolution with its pregnant chords and full throttle vocals.
In addition to Dillard and Hez, Haddon also brings in Donald Lawrence, who directs the hand-clapper (and hand-waver) “Keep On Blessing Me.” The wonderful Jessica Reedy leads a spirited retread of the gospel hymn, “Do Not Pass Me By.”
Those who anticipate that this album contains the adventuresome, ultra-modern production of Deitrick Haddon couldn’t be further from the truth. LXWis a high-octane choir album, pure and simple. If the album doesn’t bring the choir back, it’s not for lack of trying.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “Just Like He Said He Would,” “With God.”