I Will Sing
In Season Music Group
(release date: October 13, 2017)
By Bob Marovich
From the Tidewater area of Virginia comes Derek Dunn, whose latest CD, I Will Sing, is notable for offering more than the usual number of high-potential songs expected from an album of new compositions.
Dunn’s muscular voice is reminiscent of Isaac Carree who, it turns out, is one of his influences. So is Fred Hammond, all of which explains why the single, “If It Had Not Been,” as well as “Got to Make It,” featuring Emory Diggs, bear more than passing resemblances to Commissioned and Men of Standard.
But it’s the quality of the songwriting that makes I Will Sing stand out. Dunn surrounds himself with talented songwriters, notably his producer Eric L. Minus, as well as Calvin Austin and Darrell Moore, though Minus pens the majority of the songs. Minus’s “He Will Supply” has a decidedly southern soul gospel sound, complete with horns, a quartet beat, and a quartet vamp. “I Can’t Live Without You” is a sweet song of adoration with a melody and drive that boost its radio potential. “Pray For Me,” featuring guest vocalist Minister Earl Bynum, is a moving ballad that seems ripe for teaching the worship team. The chorus of “I Need a Word” is compelling, and “I Will Do a New Thing,” written by Austin, is another passionately sung melodic ballad.
The lyrics, by and large, come out of a personal relationship with God, who helps us get through the challenges of daily life and loves us even when we don’t reciprocate that love. Nowhere is this message more explicit than on “Got to Make It,” “If It Had Not Been,” “He Will Supply,” and “I Can’t Live Without You.”
Much of the final third of the album is taken up with variations on the hymnbook stalwart, “I Need Thee.” The best of the lot is the soup-to-nuts full version. It opens with an organ-accompanied Dunn, swept into the hymn’s embrace like a traditional church stomper, then transitions to a contemporary variation, complete with new melody and lyrics. The radio version and final cut, offered separately, are the two halves of the whole and conceivably exist solely for the programming convenience of gospel radio announcers.
Not only does Derek Dunn make good on the promise of the album title, but the songs he sings make it worthwhile.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “He Will Supply,” “I Can’t Live Without You,” “Pray For Me,” “I Will Do a New Thing”