Motown Gospel (release date: July 28, 2017)
By Bob Marovich
It doesn’t take hearing gospel artist Gene Moore singing “Summer Soft” to feel Stevie Wonder’s inspiration throughout Moore’s EP, The Future.
“Summer Soft” is the bonus track on a project that has a Wonder feel all over it (sans harmonica), especially during its more rhythmically animated tracks. And it’s available on Motown Gospel, so there’s that connection to Wonder’s roots, also.
Moore’s voice, like Wonder’s, is handsome, flexible, and melodic. Yet it is only when he is singing with a minimum of accompaniment, as on the introspective “All for Me” and “Recover,” that Moore’s light really shines. His finest vocal work is heard on the acoustic “Not There Yet,” a lyrical journey to being a better person—indeed, striving for perfection.
These days, visions of the future are fraught with dystopian predictions and unsettling images of a world gone amok. Gene Moore’s future, however, is a positive place. Here, blessings flow, but one first has to prepare to walk into it. That, he reminds his listeners, requires faith, especially during life’s rough spots. The song “Move Over” manages the rough spots by sustaining confidence that God is “making a way for me” and, by extension, you, too. “Recover” makes the theme personal; it is Moore’s own passionately-sung testimony of overcoming depression.
The EP is packed with top-notch songwriters such as Aaron Lindsey, B.Slade Williams, Dana Sorey, and Israel Houghton. Cheryl Fortune appears as a background vocalist on the title track. The musicians are skilled session players with a keen sense of soul, R&B, and jazz.
The livelier selections, such as “Coming Home” and “The Prize,” have complex arrangements and loquacious lyrics, not your typical worship service fare, but I suspect that is not what Moore is striving for. The Future feels more like a soulful workshop about the God-appointed destiny that is waiting for anyone with the moral courage to step out on faith.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Recover,” “All For Me”