Reviews

JGM Pick of the Week: November 21, 2017

“Come Too Far” New Golden Crowns of Louisville, KY Sharp Records (release date: June 1, 2017) Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Organized in 1940 as the Golden Crowns, an a cappella quartet, the New Golden Crowns of Louisville, Kentucky, are comprised of a mixture of new members and a couple of veterans, notably lead singer Reverend Nathaniel Brown (50+ years) and guitar player Reverend Bobby Johnson (30+ years). “Come Too Far” is a drive-tempo hand clapper that riffs on the church catchphrase, “I’ve come too far, I can’t turn around,” as immortalized in the Alex Bradford classic “Too Close ...

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Ruth La’Ontra – I Got You

Ruth La’Ontra I Got You ALJR Music Group/Tyscot Records (release date: September 22, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich To the best of my recollection, the last time a Ruth Jones was in gospel music, she was a teenager singing with Sallie Martin. Finding it difficult to keep boy-crazy Ruth in check, Sallie returned her to her mother. Ruth later resurfaced as a solo artist, better known as the Queen of the Blues Dinah Washington. The new Ruth Jones goes by Ruth La’Ontra. On I Got You, the live follow-up to her debut release, So Good, Ruth showcases an instantly appealing gospel voice that ...

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Cheryl Fortune – Simply Cheryl

Cheryl Fortune Simply Cheryl LuDawn Music / Tyscot Records (release date: October 13, 2017) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich On a selection from her album Simply Cheryl, gospel singer-songwriter Cheryl Fortune sings: “You don’t know the half of it, and I just can’t tell it all.” Cheryl, a background vocalist for Kirk Franklin and the wife of gospel artist James Fortune until their marriage dissolved over his domestic abuse, may not tell it all but we get the drift. The album’s coded references to her recent personal history are exactly what we would have expected from this, her debut solo album.  Anything else would have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 14, 2017

“Sweet Beulah Land” Eddie Ruth Bradford (release date: September 25, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/eddieruthbradford3 By Bob Marovich The gospel songbird of Clarksdale, Mississippi, is at it again, this time with a mournful hymn about the eternal home. Backed by minimal instrumentation and the producer’s voice multi-tracked to simulate a male quartet (and a good one, too), “Sweet Beulah Land” finds Eddie Ruth Bradford singing longingly about that place “across the river” where there will be no more goodbyes or sadness. The lonely, weary melody and ERB’s bluesy vocals express the fatigue of the soul living in an unforgiving earth, but the lyrics look ...

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Geneatha Wright – In His Presence

Geneatha Wright In His Presence Godfather Records (release date: June 30, 2017) www.geneatha.com By Bob Marovich Since the untimely and tragic passing of the Reverend Timothy Wright in 2009, the Wright family has endeavored to sustain his gospel legacy through their own contributions to the genre. In particular, Wright’s son, Pastor John David Wright, and his wife Geneatha (nee Daughtry) have for several years released music under David’s Godfather Records imprint, named for the late Reverend Timothy’s moniker as the Godfather of Gospel. For David, it’s been work with the New York Fellowship Mass Choir. For Geneatha, it’s been solo albums and ...

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Swingin Hammers – s/t

Swingin Hammers (self-titled) (release date: November 10, 2017) www.swinginhammers.com By Bob Marovich When one of the titles on an album is “Hangman,” you know the artist has experienced some kind of something. Confessional is the overall mood of Swingin Hammers, the self-titled debut album of singer-songwriter Benjamin Rupe, who performs under the rubric of Swingin Hammers. The ten songs are raw, stark, not at all sugar coated. It is the catharsis of a man who can’t believe the Savior still cares for him, flaws and all. One aspect of Swingin Hammers that distinguishes it from other sacred fare is its brutal honesty. Many ...

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“Just Fine” – Mama Sheila feat. Bryan Andrew Wilson

“Just Fine” Mama Sheila feat. Bryan Andrew Wilson Bryan’s Songs Records (2017) By Bob Marovich To a traditional gospel melody, a kick drum backbeat, and featuring preacher-style prompting from her son Bryan Andrew Wilson, Sheila Davis Wilson, as “Mama Sheila,” strings together familiar church sayings as her testimony about getting through a life with its ups and downs, including cancer “having its way with me.” A congregation of background vocalists serve as the response to her call about the goodness of King Jesus smoothing the rough ways. Sheila grew up in a gospel singing family, so traditional gospel is in her DNA.  ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 6, 2017

“Wood and Nails” Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad From Work Songs: The Porter’s Gate Worship Project, Volume 1 (Live) (release date: October 6, 2017) www.portersgateworship.com By Bob Marovich “Wood and Nails,” Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad’s feather-light and stunningly gorgeous duet, has its foundation in contemporary Christian music but its simplicity seems to come straight from a Shaker hymnbook. Assad’s vulnerable soprano is otherworldly, whether solo or in two-part harmony with Garrels. The spare acoustic arrangement is ideal for this prayerful meditation on how Jesus, the carpenter, built our home with the wood and nails of the Cross. The single is part of ...

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Chris Jasper – Thank You Jesus

Chris Jasper Thank You Jesus Gold City Music (2015; re-release date: August 11, 2016) www.ChrisJasper.com By Bob Marovich Someone once asked a singer to define the difference between gospel and jazz. The artist answered with two words: the lyrics. The same can be said about the difference between gospel and pretty much all genres, including R&B and soul. Proof positive: Thank You Jesus, Chris Jasper’s two-CD compilation of his gospel and inspirational material. Jasper, former songwriter, producer, and vocalist for the Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley, presses his retro smooth soul stylings into the service of the Lord. Some songs are inspirational ...

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Higher Vision – For Your Kingdom

Higher Vision For Your Kingdom Syntax Distribution (release date: October 6, 2017) www.highervisionworship.com By Bob Marovich For Your Kingdom is the debut offering from the worship team of the 3,000+ member multigenerational Higher Vision Church, located in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. The album is an hour-plus of high energy stadium-sized performances of praise songs wrapped in Christian rock and electronic pop music. As with many live P&W projects, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For Your Kingdom’s anthemic songs float along on melodies and themes that blend together, creating not an album of individually distinctive tracks ...

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