Evangelist Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse
The Kind of God We Serve: Live in Chicago
TREWWORKS Music Group/Deznell Music Group (2011)
By Bob Marovich
It is always a pleasure to hear a live gospel quartet album that truly captures the excitement of a group having church. Such an album is The Kind of God We Serve by Chicago-based Evangelist Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse.
Although the group’s name gives the impression that it is a contemporary small choir, make no mistake: Nelson Larkins & God’s Posse is a rompin’, stompin’ quartet that is 70 percent traditional, 30 percent contemporary in its delivery. You Tube is resplendent with amateur videos of the group shouting the glory down at various church settings. I get the impression that although the live album was released initially in 2011, it is being re-introduced into the market, complete with a new cover.
Darnell Williams’ quality production highlights the group’s harmonies, the spontaneity of the audience (though where in Chicago the live recording took place is unknown), and the accomplishments of the musicians. For example, quartet progeny and electric guitarist Joey Woolfalk signifies traditional by laying down blues riffs at the start of “Leave That Woman Alone.” Criss Johnson, another product of the Chicago quartet community, cameos on the song as a lead-singer-turned-preacher, relating with great exuberance the story of the woman who discovers Christ missing from the tomb.
The CD offers several uptempo handclappers, none more quintessentially gospel quartet than “Put Your Trust In Jesus.” It has all the necessary ingredients of a pewburner: up-tempo backbeat, call-and-response between lead and group, audience interaction, and a shouting extended vamp. On the medley, “Old Gospel Music,” God’s Posse provides old-school harmonies with remarkable fidelity. Ironically, the group follows “Old Gospel Music” with a funky, contemporary turn on “Ride On King Jesus.” It would have been interesting had they begun the spiritual as part of the “Old Gospel Music” medley, complete with jubilee harmonies, then transitioned into the modern interpretation.
At the quartet’s appearance as part of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild Quartet Jam last week, Larkins told the audience that he is considering retiring for medical reasons. While his retirement will leave a void, the fifteen years of training under his tutelage will sustain God’s Posse henceforward.
Five of Five Stars
Pick: “Leave That Woman Alone,” “Put Your Trust In Jesus.”