Reviews

Pastor Marlon Lock – Unleashed (EP)

Pastor Marlon Lock Unleashed (2016) www.pastormarlonlock.com By Bob Marovich “You Covered Me,” a single from Stellar Award-nominated Pastor Marlon Lock of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made JGM’s Pick of the Week last June. It appears on his EP, Unleashed, a collection of seven cuts that showcase Lock’s urban adult contemporary approach to mostly introspective songs and stories about one’s relationship with God. While I am a proponent of hiring a group of musicians versus having the computer do it all, the electronically engineered low-key accompaniment for most of the selections seems to fit the album’s confessional vibe. The lead track and single, ...

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Treva Jones: I Am Praise – The Project

Treva Jones I Am Praise – The Project Chezmusique (2017) www.trevajones.com By Bob Marovich Treva Jones wasn’t taking any chances when she assembled I Am Praise – The Project. The Houston, Texas, resident packed her latest release with some of gospel music’s finest singers, songwriters, and producers. She also took her time to put it together—three years to be exact—with the 2014 release of the I Am Praise EP but a preview of things to come. With songs written by V. Michael McKay, Margaret Douroux, and the late O’Landa Draper; with San Franklin Jackson and Mark Kibble (Take 6) as background ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 22, 2017

“Lord, You’ve Been Good to Me” Tim Woodson & the Heirs of Harmony Peacock Music Group (release date: April 11, 2017) www.peacockmusicgroup.com By Bob Marovich With their version of a gospel quartet classic recorded in 1961 by the Original Five Blind Boys (and credited to the late Lloyd Woodard), Tim Woodson & the Heirs of Harmony give a contemporary touch to what is otherwise a straight ahead old-school sound. The track opens with a low-volume and stripped down version of the song and then transitions, as from black and white to color, into the Heirs of Harmony’s version. “Lord, You’ve Been Good to ...

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“O My Soul” – The Southeastern Gospel Music Workshop Choir

“O My Soul” The Southeastern Gospel Music Workshop Choir From the NGE Records Let God Arise (Live) (release date: August 1, 2016) Available on digital music outlets By Bob Marovich The Southeastern Gospel Music Workshop Choir’s debut single, “Let God Arise,” is the type of aurally aerobic song that praise teams use to open a worship service, and therefore also comprises a live album’s opening moments. It is the kind of song popular with today’s gospel radio programmers. But the choir’s slower and more reflective “O My Soul” grabbed my attention. “O My Soul” possesses in grace, dignity, and reverence ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 17, 2017

“You Can Call on Jesus” Donnie, Darryl & the Joyboyz From the JSound Records album He Did It (release date: October 21, 2016) By Bob Marovich From Nashville, Tennessee, Donnie and Darryl Frierson are known as the “smallest men in gospel” because they each hit four-and-a-half feet tall and not much more than that. But good things come in small packages, and the brothers prove it on the 2016 selection, “You Can Call on Jesus.”  It’s a joyous Sunday morning shouting song with a quartet backbeat that has the live recording audience clapping along. The Friersons sing the encouraging word ...

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BJ McKenzie – Encouraging God’s Nation (Isaiah 61:1)

BJ McKenzie Encouraging God’s Nation (Isaiah 61:1) BJ Muzic (release date: September 6, 2016) www.bjmuzic.org By Bob Marovich Taking Isaiah 61:1 for his thematic anchor, award-winning solo artist and choir director Bernard “BJ” McKenzie Jr. of Chicago offers a healthy dose of optimism on his debut solo album, Encouraging God’s Nation. But the lyrics do not stop at simply getting through life’s trials.  Getting to one’s favor, or blessings (breakthrough), is just as significant. McKenzie offers these linked messages of hope and expectation time and again, most particularly on the single, “Born 2 Win.” It is a contemporary gospel song about looking past ...

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“Release” – The Church Choir feat. Pastor John P. Kee and Maranda Curtis

“Release” The Church Choir feat. Maranda Curtis & Pastor John P. Kee From the Kee Music Group CD If God Be For Us (release date: August 26, 2016) Available from digital music outlets By Bob Marovich If anyone has a stake in the “bring the church choir back” movement, it’s Pastor John P. Kee. Church choirs have been his life and continue to be. Last year, Kee, the award-winning founder of the New Life Community Choir, united a choir with gospel stars such as Zacardi Cortez and Hezekiah Walker for If God Be For Us.  The album was intended to help rekindle ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 1, 2017

“In His Presence” Geneatha Wright Feat. the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and Denise Renee Godfather Records (release date: March 27, 2017) www.cdbaby.com/cd/geneathawright2 By Bob Marovich First Lady Geneatha Wright gives her all to “In His Presence,” a simple, sweet ballad written by her husband, Pastor David Wright, about being where Jesus is because where Jesus is, there is peace, freedom, and liberty. Together with the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and soloist Denise Renee, Wright builds the intensity of the song until it ends in fiery evangelistic shouting. The instruments drop out at one point to accentuate the singing.  “In His ...

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Mr. Del – Love Noize

Mr. Del Love Noize DMG (release date: March 16, 2016) www.mrdel.com By Bob Marovich On Love Noize, Mr. Del the Hope Dealer traffics in the one thing we need more of: love. Following faith and hope, the greatest concept is love.  It’s the theme of the Christian rapper’s latest album.  Love Noize is the third in a trilogy of albums based on 1 Corinthians 13:13; the others are Faith Walka (2013) and Hope Dealer (2014).  Love for friends, for enemies, for God, as well as God’s love for us, all are grist for Mr. Del’s rhyme mill. Sometimes love is hard, as ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2017

“He’s the One” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Pastor Walter E. Ellis From the album Kainos (The Acoustic Documentary) Puretonez Production/eOne Distribution (release date: September 2016) www.monicalisastevenson.com By Bob Marovich Those who appreciate the fiery traditional singing of Monica Lisa Stevenson, the proverbial fifth Caravan, will be slightly taken aback by her softer, gentler, and overall acoustic approach to “He’s the One.” I say slightly taken aback because “Try Jesus (He’s the One)” is not a new song: MLS’s father and uncles, who had formed a quartet, sang it on their programs. It’s a traditional song.  Only the smooth arrangement and ...

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