Reviews

Various Artists: JDI Classics – Gospel Music for All Occasions

Various Artists JDI Classics: Gospel Music for All Occasions JDI Records (release date: April 6, 2018) By Bob Marovich JDI Records founder and CEO James Roberson has been doing some spring cleaning. In the case of The Essential Beverly Crawford, Vol. 2 as well as with this new JDI Classics release, Robertson has been reissuing items from the company’s estimable catalog. JDI Classics: Gospel Music for All Occasions is a clever repackaging conceit and something of a greatest hits collection for the Los Angeles-based label. Some of the songs are older. For example, Norman Hutchins’ “Emmanuel” (the Christmas choice) is ...

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The Essential Beverly Crawford, Volume 2

Beverly Crawford The Essential – Vol. 2 JDI Records (release date: February 2, 2018) By Bob Marovich Gainesville, Florida, gospel singer Beverly Crawford is a steadfast traditionalist, and God bless her for it. She is among the most popular of those singers who perpetuate the audience-rousing squalling and shouting characteristic of old time evangelism, and who still sings songs packed with church aphorisms and mother wit. As was the case with the first volume of The Essential Beverly Crawford (2005), neither “It’s About Time for a Miracle” nor “Sweeping Through the City” are included on The Essential – Volume 2, despite ...

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The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down

The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down Put Together Music (release date: February 16, 2018) www.shawnamos.com By Bob Marovich The Reverend Shawn Amos might just be the most righteous preacher who’s not a preacher. Amos, whose mother was nightclub singer Shirl-ee May and whose father was a William Morris Agency executive and founder of Famous Amos cookies, is not a licensed ordained minister. Nevertheless, he uses his platform to speak truth to power, and pulls on a lifetime spent in the music business to accentuate the urgency of his message with fistfuls of biting blues guitar and harmonica. “21st Century Freedom ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 9, 2018

“Believe” Ese-Osa April Sound https://www.facebook.com/eseosamusic/ By Bob Marovich The gospel artist formerly known as Liosa offers “Believe,” a lovely ballad of personal encouragement sung as part prayer and part soaring affirmation. To a lilting piano, Ese-Osa’s beguiling alto delivers her hopeful message with dead-on conviction and apexes with a range-extending shout. Ese-Osa, christened Osasuyi Deborah Esosa, hails from Edo State in southern Nigeria. After joining the Nigerian Fellowship of Evangelical Students choir, she helped the troupe record its first album by writing most of the selections. By 2008, she launched her solo career and since then has garnered two South-South ...

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“We Livin'” – Tina Campbell

“We Livin’” Tina Campbell From the Gee Tee Creative / Malaco Records album It’s Still Personal (release date: September 29, 2017) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Tina Campbell is “livin’ that blessed life” but, as you’ll hear, there’s two interpretations of that statement. On her latest single, “We Livin’,” Tina, one-half of the Mary Mary gospel duo, sings that your high life isn’t so high if God isn’t a part of it. She acknowledges that people want to live big, garnering material wealth and respect, and she doesn’t disparage it.  She herself has reaped rich rewards in her singing career.  But at ...

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SWEETEVERAFTER – Adoration Project (EP)

SWEETEVERAFTER Adoration Project (EP) (release date: February 2, 2018) www.sweeteverafter.net By Bob Marovich Nearly ten years ago, husband-and-wife team Ammee Pearl and Jay Huzil formed SWEETEVERAFTER, a Christian group with a hard rock center. They earned a Metal Song of the Year nomination from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. The duo’s latest release, the Adoration Project EP, is decidedly mellower than their earlier output. They set aside their electronic gear to hone in on the nitty gritty of some urgent messages. Huzil’s acoustic guitar leads a low-key ensemble of strings, soft percussion, piano, a flute that floats around the music, and the high, lonesome ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 2, 2018

“Trouble Won’t Last” Apostle James Alston & Fellowship https://apostlejamesalston.com/ By Bob Marovich By their name, Apostle James Alston & Fellowship sounds like a P&W group, but they are actually a quartet, complete with Alston’s gravelly lead vocal delivery and gospel chuckle. For “Trouble Won’t Last,” Alston & Fellowship delivers the reassuring message of Psalm 30:5, like so many decades of quartets before them, in the language of the spiritual, “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always.” Of course, the melody and lyrics are different from the spiritual, and the quartet gives their song a bounce appropriate for the joyful sentiment. ...

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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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