Reviews

“Strength” – Brieaunna Ling

“Strength” Brieaunna Ling From the BPA Music Group EP Answering the Call (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich Tucked lovingly in an EP of extroverted electrified worship music is a stripped-down melodic prayer ballad called “Strength.” Sounding as if she is at wit’s end, indie gospel artist Brieaunna Ling pours out her pain and exposes every vein of vulnerability on this emotionally raw piece.  Her husband, Corey Ling, accompanies on piano. After shouting her troubles over, Brieaunna realizes that better is coming. It’s the kind of song that brings people to their feet because everyone has experienced this ...

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“Selfie Song” – Jada Redmond

“Selfie Song” Jada Redmond From the 4Red Music EP My Season (release date: January 4, 2019) https://tpministries.wixsite.com/jada By Bob Marovich For decades, gospel music has mined spiritual metaphors out of the latest technology. Bessie Griffin sang about Heaven’s radio, Charles Taylor about God’s television, and the Friendly Brothers called Jesus through the intersession of the telephone operator. And speaking of telephones, there’s the congregational favorite, “Jesus on the Main Line.” The latest example is teen singer Jada Redmond’s single, “Selfie Song.” To an unrelenting Jamaican beat and a hook-laden chorus with a percussive “Snap! Snap!” that just aches for a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 26, 2019

“Moving Forward” Ken Heath & the True Disciples Keep Hope Music (release date: March 29, 2019) By Bob Marovich I’ll admit it: when I first heard Ken Heath shout “Move! Get up out of your seat!” on “Moving Forward,” I did immediately as commanded. The optimistic song about the joy that comes with forsaking the past and embracing a future made brighter by salvation moves with a righteous strut that transitions effortlessly into an extended vamp that sells the song. It’s during the vamp that Heath directs listeners to get up out of their seats and turn their life around ...

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Sanctified Soul – Joyful

Sanctified Soul Joyful Rampart Street Music (release date: 2018) www.rampartstreetmusic.com/cd-joyfulss.htm By Bob Marovich Gospel saxophonist Harold Rayford once said that jazz and gospel are first cousins. If that’s so, New Orleans produced some of the first cousins’ earliest progenitors—from King Oliver and Louis Armstrong to Mahalia Jackson and Bessie Griffin. There’s also the New Orleans ensemble Sanctified Soul, which offers helpings of jazz and gospel, as well as soul and R&B. The group lives up to its name on its latest album, Joyful, and the collection of gospel, inspirational, and classic jazz songs lives up to the album title (which, ...

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“Strong Name” – Darius Paulk

“Strong Name”Darius PaulkAIR / Malaco (2019)www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Darius Paulk, perhaps best known for penning Vashawn Mitchell’s number one hit “Nobody Greater,” demonstrated facility as a singer on his own 2012 EP, Lyrics and Melodies (which included his own interpretation of “Nobody Greater”). “Strong Name,” Paulk’s debut single for Malaco’s Atlanta International Records imprint, is an equally extroverted proclamation of worship, a head raised and hands extended offering to the Most High. Paulk’s flights into falsetto are evocative of Mitchell as he navigates the song’s easy melody until the song’s final moments, when a growing musical intensity uncorks his ...

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Roberta Martin Singers: 1947-1962

Roberta Martin Singers Didn’t It Rain / Only a Look / The Old Ship of Zion: 1947-1962 Fremeaux & Associes (release date: February 2019) www.fremeaux.com By Bob Marovich Roberta Martin is to today’s enthusiasts of gospel music what writers like James Joyce and Henry James are to today’s enthusiasts of literature: someone whose work is considered the gold standard, but few take the time to explore the wonderment of their artistic creations. Fremeaux & Associes in France has made it easier to indulge in the work of Roberta Martin and her Roberta Martin Singers. Offering 72 tracks and a 24-page ...

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The Recording Collective – Yes and Amen

The Recording Collective Yes and Amen (release date: February 8, 2019) www.therecordingcollective.com By Bob Marovich The Recording Collective is a largely (perhaps intentionally) anonymous ensemble created by MultiTracks.com, a company that has for more than a decade provided churches with Clicks, Loops, and multi-tracks to give their amateur musicians a professional-sounding sonic boost. Yes and Amen in the third volume in the company’s series of albums and EPs designed, according to The Recording Collective’s mission statement, to “be a resource to worship leaders and listeners in multicultural congregations around the world.” Named for the Bethel Worship hit that is among ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 18, 2019

“I’ll Do It For You” The Fantastic Bibletones BTones Music (release date: January 29, 2019) www.thefantasticbibletones.com By Bob Marovich Not the Buffalo, New York, group of yesteryear, this Fantastic Bibletones is a female gospel quartet from St. Louis, Missouri, that sounds like a church-honed Sister Sledge. The ladies’ new single, “I’ll Do It For You,” is a bouncy, cheery ode to discipleship with an infectious rhythm section, fine call-and-response, and a bluesy vamp. Organized in 1971 and active until 1998, after which they took a break from the arduous gospel highway, the Fantastic Bibletones re-energized in 2009. They released two ...

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William Murphy – Settle Here

William Murphy Settle Here RCA Inspiration (release date: March 15, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich William Murphy uses home court advantage to his best advantage on his sixth and latest solo album, Settle Here. Recorded live on a rainy evening at Atlanta’s dReam Center Church, where Murphy is worship leader, Settle Here offers ten superb P&W songs instead of replicating a worship service, warts and all, in lockstep fashion. For example, the album opens not with the almost compulsory cookie-cutter aerobic praise piece but with Christian artist Zach Williams’ dramatic “Chain Breaker.” The song, recorded previously by Angela “Missy” Billups, ...

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“You Deserve My Praise” – M’Renee

“You Deserve My Praise”M’ReneeFrom the EP You Deserve My Praise (2014)www.mreneemusik.com By Bob Marovich “Chosen” might be the single, but the title track of M’Renee’s EP You Deserve My Praise is more memorable.  It is an uncomplicated rhythm and praise offering that bristles with the sunny electronica and perky beat of today’s pop radio. That’s the way the Richmond, Virginia, songstress rolls. Her arrangements tend to be aerobic, the melodies and lyrics optimistic and encouraging. It’s worship and dance music blended into a ball of steady rolling energy. “You Deserve My Praise” is characteristic of her catalog.

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