Reviews

Jarred AllStar – Water and Wine

Jarred AllStar Water and Wine Independent (release date: December 25, 2018) www.jarredallstar.com By Bob Marovich What I find particularly interesting about Christian hip hop is that, like any type of poetry, the more you listen, the more you are rewarded with new insights. Of course, not every song or poem is deep, but enough are to warrant closer investigation. This is certainly the case with Jarred AllStar Haynes’ Water and Wine. While some selections gush with the unbridled joy of salvation, others have more incisive messages. Peppering his rhymes with humorous references to popular culture, Jarred, a licensed minister, finds meaning ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 19, 2019

“Anchored”God’s PosseIndependent (release date: January 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Acknowledging at the outset that “Anchored” is actually an old song with a new twist, God’s Posse of Chicago proceeds to provide an up-tempo reading of said old song, complete with soft harmonies, a lead-trading vamp, and contemporary arrangement. The metaphoric “Anchored” teaches that, in the midst of life’s storms, it’s best to hitch one’s line to the Lord. The single is yet another reason why God’s Posse is among the city’s top gospel quartets. God’s Posse, itself anchored by the music tutelage of the Windy City Four’s Nelson Larkins, ...

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The Tommies Reunion (Live)

The Tommies Reunion Seven Legend Group / JMG Entertainment / Tyscot Records (release date: February 22, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich At their apex, Chicago’s Thompson Community Singers—known affectionately as the Tommies—were one of the most emulated gospel choirs in the country. Music ministers couldn’t wait for the next Tommies album to hit record stores so they could buy it and glean new gems to teach their own choirs. Having just surpassed the seventieth anniversary of their formation by the late Reverend Milton Brunson, the Tommies are back with their first new album in a decade. The Tommies Reunion choir ...

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“Safe” – Ruth La’Ontra

“Safe” Ruth La’Ontra Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Gospel songstress Ruth La’Ontra gushes over the protection available in God’s arms during “Safe,” a boldly arranged worship song that beats with the heart of a modern hymn. Ruth waits for the vamp to let loose with a string of melismatic runs and intense call-and-response with her BGVs. Penned by Anthony Brown (leader of Group TherAPy) and Justin L. Savage, “Safe” debuted on Ruth’s 2017 Tyscot album, I Got You (Live). The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ruth is the daughter of veteran radio announcer Pastor Arvetra Jones Jr. and the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 4, 2019

“He Has Been Good” Bernice Brown Gregory From the EP Faithful (EP release date: July 28, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/bernicebrowngregory By Bob Marovich The opening track of Bernice Brown Gregory’s Faithful, an EP of relaxed contemporary praise songs and a digitally orchestrated version of “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” is an up-tempo churchy tune called “He Has Been Good.” Evoking the exuberance of the Chicago Mass Choir, Bernice and her background choir raise the roof on this declaration of God’s marvelous work within their lives. It’s Bernice’s first commercial recording since 2008’s God’s Been Good to Me, whose title track is similar in ...

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Kimberly Kaye – Old Time Gospel

Kimberly Kaye Old Time Gospel www.kimberlykayebachman.com By Bob Marovich Listening to Kimberly Kaye Bachman’s Old Time Gospel EP is like listening to an early Sunday morning radio broadcast emanating from an AM station in her native Iowa. The only thing missing is an encouraging emcee to introduce the singer and the songs. Kimberly does everything on the EP but engineer it; that task is entrusted to Eric Domkowski of Firewheel Audio. Otherwise, she deftly handles the lead vocals, the close country harmonies, and plays all of the stringed instruments (guitar, banjo and mandolin). The track list includes classic hymns as well ...

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Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers: Goshen

Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers Goshen RCA Inspiration (release date: February 1, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Using Old and New Testament stories to reinforce the need for a spiritual exodus from modern-day anxieties, Goshen, the latest album by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers, is the first big gospel release of 2019 and could well take its place among the best gospel albums of the year. Goshen, taken from references in Exodus of “God’s promised place” where one can find joy in the midst of troubled times, is a compendium of worship songs, declarations of personal empowerment, rages ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 28, 2019

“Deliver Me (This is My Exodus)” Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers feat. Le’Andria Johnson From the forthcoming RCA Inspiration album Goshen (release date: February 1, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Le’Andria Johnson has one of the most searing voices in gospel music today. But like any singer, or actor for that matter, the material (song, film) makes the difference. Le’Andria is at her best when presented with good gospel material. Like “Deliver Me (This is My Exodus),” her feature turn with Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. From the troupe’s thematic album Goshen, this reflection on spiritual release from ...

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Bishop J. D. Means Sr. – If He Bring You to It. . .He’ll Bring You Through It

Bishop J. D. Means Sr. If He Bring You to It. . . He’ll Bring You Through It Mean Means Music Group (release date: October 29, 2018) http://bishopjdmeanssr.com/ By Bob Marovich Bishop J. D. Means Sr.’s CD If He Bring You to It. . .He’ll Bring You Through It is filled to the brim with music, so much so that it feels like two albums in one. Or maybe three, depending on how you look at it. The first half of the album is comprised of newly-composed songs with heaping helpings of old-school soul. Means renders these fundamental songs of ...

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Casey J – The Gathering

Casey J The Gathering Casey J, LLC and Tyscot Records under exclusive license to Integrity Music (release date: January 25, 2019) The Gathering cements Casey J’s place in the pride of young lionesses of Praise & Worship, a cadre that includes such artists as Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Preashea Hilliard, Bri Babineaux, and Dominique Jones. Fascinatingly, what makes The Gathering work is not the characteristically P&W songs like “Hosanna” and the popular “1,000 Hallelujahs,” though the latter’s chimeric Afro-Caribbean rhythm separates it from the pack. It’s the musical risks Casey J takes by incorporating into the album’s selections styles of American ...

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