Reviews

Various Artists: WOW GOSPEL 2017

Various Artists WOW GOSPEL 2017 RCA Inspiration (release date: January 27, 2017) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the annual WOW GOSPEL collection was my personal tutor for learning about the gospel scene. Back in those days, I was focused exclusively on vintage gospel music, and particularly the contributions of quartets. I looked forward with great anticipation to the next WOW GOSPEL project so I could take another lesson in modern gospel. I often purchased the two-CD set the day it was released. It was through WOW GOSPEL that I first encountered Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise,” Mary ...

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Beverly Crawford – The Essential Beverly Crawford

Beverly Crawford The Essential Beverly Crawford JDI Records (release date: October 23, 2015) Available at Amazon.com By Bob Marovich The Essential Beverly Crawford is a best-of pulled from her two volume Live from Los Angeles series, released in 2008 and 2010, respectively, with a new song, “Deliverance,” tacked on top. Like Pastor Shirley Caesar, Crawford knows how to work a congregation, interspersing conversational spoken word in the midst of songs or evangelizing before and during her performances. You hear the singer swoop, squall, whoop, scream, and shout with preacher’s breath. She preaches and teaches. She does the holy dance. But she also offers ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 23, 2017

“No Rivals” Alyce Metallo www.AlyceMetallo.com Available at digital outlets Singing “My heart is yours / There are no rivals / You have no rivals, Jesus,” Alyce Metallo makes it clear who holds her heart for real. The pop melody is equal parts solemn and ear candy. It benefits from a soaring production courtesy of Nathan Walter, formerly of the Christian band Plus One. Metallo, a Washington, DC, singer-songwriter, wrote this song after the loss of her father, who disappeared on the snowy streets of DC for ten days and did not survive the cold.  It served as both catharsis and ...

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Monae Miller – #ForeverAlive (EP)

Monae Miller #ForeverAlive (EP) Monae Miller Music www.monaemillermusic.com By Bob Marovich The writer Anton Chekhov admonished his fellow writers: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” This quote hung in the air while I was reviewing Kansas-born and Texas-based singer-songwriter Monae Miller’s #ForeverAlive EP. The photo on the front and back covers, as well as photos within the CD booklet, show her holding a guitar. So I anticipated that ...

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Kenneth Wilson Chorale – Incorruptible Seed

Kenneth Wilson Chorale Incorruptible Seed Love Records (release date: January 1, 2017) http://kennethwilsonchorale.hearnow.com By Bob Marovich Drawing from 1 Peter 1:23 for its title, Incorruptible Seed is the latest album from Detroit’s Kenneth Wilson Chorale, a group that demonstrates high-level vocal training in its easy, controlled delivery. Wilson’s songs—he wrote all the selections—append messages of hope and encouragement to mid-tempo contemporary gospel choir music. The album’s thematic premise of God’s constancy for His people is condensed in the opening track, “I’ve Got Jesus.” This rhythmic, mid-tempo cut points to the primacy of Jesus as all anyone needs to weather a ...

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Riverside SDA Church: The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion

Riverside SDA Church The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion G.Favored Entertainment Group/DREAM Gospel/ Capitol Christian Distribution www.RiversideNashville.org By Bob Marovich While gospel music is most often associated with Baptist and Pentecostal/Holiness churches, the Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, as just about all African American denominations by this point, has embraced the rhythm of gospel music. Riverside SDA in Nashville is no different. Founded in 1945, the church has grown from 26 members to a congregation that fills a sizable sanctuary on the banks of the Cumberland River. The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion is a two-CD set that offers a hefty ...

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Various Artists – Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation

Various Artists Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation Motown Gospel (release date: January 13, 2017) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Gospel music often functions as protest music. Either explicitly, as during the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s, or implicitly, with semi-coded lyrics like the spirituals before them, gospel songs fight back against an oppressive world with messages of faith and encouragement that trouble won’t last always. Heal: Songs of Hope for our Nation from Motown Gospel offers ten examples of how contemporary gospel music is poised to carry on the fight against evil and oppression in today’s uncertain political climate. The ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 16, 2017

“All God’s Children Ain’t Free” Level One Sound presents the Jones Family Singers www.jonesfamilysingers.com It seemed appropriate, on this remembrance day for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that JGM should spotlight the Jones Family Singers’ newly-released cover of Johnny Cash’s “All God’s Children Ain’t Free.” Bishop Fred Jones Sr. channels Cash’s folksy rumination while daughter Alexis Jones-Giles accentuates the most important lines of the lyric with the vocal force of a human trumpet. The echo-y harmonies and jangly tambourine, when combined with the steady and minimal country beat, evoke Cash’s original from his 1965 Orange Blossom Special (Columbia Records). Recorded at Level One ...

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“When Will It End?” – Dave Bass & the D.B.G.s

“When Will It End?” Dave Bass & the D.B.G.s DNB Associates, Inc. (2013) www.cdbaby.com/cd/davebass2 DC-area gospel soloist Dave Bass recorded “When Will It End?” in 2013 after the death of Trayvon Martin. Since the song’s message, “the way you look can change your fate,” rings just as true four years later, he’s putting it back front and center to call more attention to the need for justice and truth. Bass’s stinging line about Martin, “only seventeen, went for a snack / a brief encounter, never came back,” subconsciously evokes “The Ballad of Emmett Till,” a 1956 recording by Scatman Crothers’ ...

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J. Bethel & Spoken For – All In

J. Bethel & Spoken For All In (independent release) www.jbs4.co By Bob Marovich All in, indeed. Frenetically rolling drums at the outset signify that the debut full-length release by Detroit gospel group J. Bethel & Spoken For is about to dazzle the listener with a proverbial kitchen sink’s worth of instrumentation and a high-energy range of musical influences, from jazz to rock to contemporary gospel and even some funk (after all, Jason “J” Bethel Sr.’s uncle worked with Parliament Funkadelic). The album leans heavy on the church truism that praise is the answer, especially during personal trials, as articulated on “I ...

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