Reviews

Nine Beats Collective – Nine Beats to the Bar

Nine Beats Collective Nine Beats to the Bar Plankton Records (release date: June 16, 2017) www.9beats.org By Bob Marovich Nine Beats Collective is an assembly of musicians, songwriters, composers, singers, and poets who represent three continents and contribute different musical styles, but have one thing in common: healing the world from the inside out. A product of their efforts, Nine Beats to the Bar, is as singular in its motive as it is variable in its sound. While gospel music elements are present on the Reverend Vince Anderson’s “#blessed,” the sound shuffles, track by track, between jazz, classical, R&B, spoken word, and pop music. On the other hand, the message ...

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Derek Dunn – I Will Sing

Derek Dunn I Will Sing In Season Music Group (release date: October 13, 2017) www.inseasonmusicgroup.com 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 ...

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Jennifer Shaw – Nothing to Fear

Jennifer Shaw Nothing to Fear This Side Up, LLC (release date: February 20, 2018) www.jennifershaw.com By Bob Marovich Jennifer Shaw is a Christian singer-songwriter who doesn’t limit her lyrics to vertical praise. In fact, she traverses socially-relevant issues on Nothing to Fear, her first full-length album in six years. There appear to be three connecting threads holding together the album’s combination of new song compositions and a hymn arrangement. One, and perhaps the greatest of these, is love—Shaw’s love for children, for God, and God’s love for all creation. For example, “How Far Love Goes” looks in wonder at a God who would trade “a crown ...

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Zion Harmonizers – Bringing in the Sheaves

Zion Harmonizers Bringing in the Sheaves Brishermax Zh (release date: March 15, 2014) http://zionharmonizers.com By Bob Marovich Organized in 1939, the Zion Harmonizers are something of a New Orleans institution. Not only has the gospel quartet been a staple at the Crescent City’s Jazz & Heritage Festival Gospel Tent,  but it was instrumental in founding the Gospel Tent in the first place. Bringing in the Sheaves, the Zion Harmonizers’ latest CD and a salute to its 75th anniversary, finds the group blending on a mix of hymns, spirituals, and new gospel compositions. Tracks such as “When We All Get to Heaven” ...

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Paul Thorn – Don’t Let the Devil Ride

Paul Thorn Don’t Let the Devil Ride Perpetual Obscurity Records (release date:  March 23, 2018) www.paulthorn.com By Bob Marovich Paul Thorn’s Don’t Let the Devil Ride hits the Americana music jackpot. With the Blind Boys of Alabama and the McCrary Sisters as guest vocalists, the Preservation Hall Horns among the musicians, and Rick Hall’s Fame and Sam Phillips’ studios as well as Preservation Hall providing recording mojo, Thorn could have performed “Happy Birthday to You” and it would have sounded smothered in tangy barbeque sauce. But Thorn taps his sacred roots (his father was a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy, ...

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Snoop Dogg – Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love

Snoop Dogg Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love RCA Inspiration / All The Time Entertainment (release date: March 16, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Calvin Broadus Jr. assumes the pulpit. In soft tones, he looks the congregation in the eye and strongly recommends that those who point fingers at others should instead point them at themselves. Treat your neighbor right is the sermonette, in rhyme. The choir nods its collective head. The organist anticipates a praise break. The orator is better known to the world as Snoop Dogg, and the song, “Voices of Praise,” is on Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love. The two-CD album, ...

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Brent Jones – Joy Comin’

Brent Jones Joy Comin’ EchoPark JDI Entertainment (release date: August 12, 2014) https://www.facebook.com/JDIRecords/ By Bob Marovich With his 2014 album Joy Comin’, singer-songwriter Brent Jones took one giant leap from his days as leader of the gospel hip hop group T.P. Mobb. This album represented a new sound for Jones’s listeners, but not for him. “It was my Sunday morning sounds and some knew me for my urban sounds,” he told Waco Tribune reporter Carl Hoover last month. Indeed, with the accomplished Orange County [California] Gospel Choir on board, Jones’s Joy Comin’ is a choral workout. The title track (and opening song) ...

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Various Artists: Make It Gospel – Chapter One

Various Artists Make It Gospel: Chapter One (release date: October 18, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/makeitgospelchapterone By Bob Marovich Make It Gospel: Chapter One is an independently-produced EP that showcases three “hidden jewel” gospel quartets: one male (Men of Fellowship), one female (New Stars of Faith), and one young group (Psalm 100). All three quartets are quite good, demonstrating that for every gospel superstar, there are thousands of gifted artists throughout the country, trying to be noticed. The meaty vocals and even harmonizing of Men of Fellowship make for enjoyable listening, while the edgy-voiced lead singer of the New Stars of Faith of Durham, North Carolina, sounds ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 5, 2018

“Let the Healing Begin” Ernest J. Lee feat. Gerard Brooks From Anthems from the Vault, Vol. 1 David’s Dance Music/RedTape Ent. (release date: June 13, 2017) https://ernestjleemusic.org/ By Bob Marovich All of us have burdens, Ernest J. Lee states at the outset of “Let the Healing Begin,” and it’s time to shed them. Featured vocalist Gerard Brooks then joins Lee on this prayer asking God to “let your glory fall all over the world,” including on our jobs and on our schools. The poignant melody and arrangement, complete with chiming background vocalists, provide the foundation on which the two men emote.  ...

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Keith Reed Jr. & New Sound of Worship – True Worship

Keith Reed Jr. & New Sound of Worship True Worship New Sound Music Group (release date: February 25, 2018) www.newsoundofworship.com By Bob Marovich Last fall, JGM reviewed Bless the Lord, an EP from Keith Reed Jr. & New Sound of Worship. It heralded the Ohio-based Rhythm & Praise ensemble’s soon-to-be-released full project, True Worship. True Worship made its debut last month and, as promised, it riffs on the musical style demonstrated on the EP. If the lyrics are conventional P&W (an exception is the empowering “Moving Towards Destiny”), and the song titles telegraph the theme, the melodies and arrangements take intriguing turns ...

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