Reviews

Jon Scott – “Freedom – A New Jerusalem”

“Freedom – A New Jerusalem” Jon Scott From the Brown Babes EP Freedom – A New Jerusalem (release date: November 17, 2020) Jon Scott, a London-based singer-songwriter (and first cousin to international singing star Seal), wrote “Freedom – A New Jerusalem” in response to President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. The murder of George Floyd only amplified Scott’s anger. With elements of Afrobeat and a U2-esque world pop sensibility, the title track of Scott’s four-track EP is an explicit call on the international community to break down the dividing walls and ...

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Sandra McCracken – Patient Kingdom

Sandra McCracken Patient Kingdom Integrity Music (release date: October 9, 2020) www.sandramccracken.com By Robert M. Marovich Whether or not Sandra McCracken penned the ten songs on Patient Kingdom before or during the pandemic, they certainly express well the disquiet of the times. But the world-weariness welling from deep within the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s throat expresses not helplessness but hopefulness, as if giving testimony to the cyclicality and potentiality of life. And that is what, I believe, the new album is all about. Songs on Patient Kingdom that are particularly attuned to the times include the gentle and tuneful “You Are With ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 23, 2020

“Dr. Jesus” The Swanee Quintet From the Ruff Boyz Music Group LLC / Overboard Records CD Made in Augusta: Live at the Bell Auditorium (release date: June 20, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich “Dr. Jesus” is a Swanee Quintet perennial, a song they cannot eliminate from their repertory no matter how many years they are on the road or how many radio singles they accumulate. Nor should they: it’s a surefire way to lift congregations from their seats and start them to clapping and waving their hands. The Augusta, Georgia, quartet’s most recent recording of “Dr. Jesus” comes from a ...

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“I’m Not Ashamed” – Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter

“I’m Not Ashamed” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Paul Porter Puretonez Productions (release date: September 8, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich You can’t go wrong pairing Monica Lisa Stevenson and Paul Porter on a song brimming with evangelism. The two traditional vocalists sing and shout like veteran evangelists as the musicians and BGVs offer shoulder-shaking support. Former Christianaires member Porter lofts falsetto notes while Stevenson digs deep to deliver bluesy runs. Their most simmering singing occurs during the vamp, when they move, like preachers, from a reasoned to a more emotional testification. “I’m Not Ashamed” is written by VaShawn Mitchell and ...

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Hanson Asiedu – Back to Life (EP)

Hanson Asiedu Back to Life (EP) Release date: October 18, 2020 www.hansonasiedu.com By Robert M. Marovich Formerly known as Kase Sounds, Hanson Asiedu is a Ghanian living in London whose responsibilities have included postman and police officer in addition to Christian singer-songwriter. His new EP, Back to Life, offers four songs that share sonic similarity but offer a variety of messages. Asiedu’s style, like many European gospel artists, is introspective and gentle, a Jonathan McReynolds feel with the acoustic guitar front and center. His voice is equally calming, sometimes fragile, but unremittingly pure, with little ornamentation. The mid-tempo “Holy Ghost ...

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Leland Philpot – Psalms in the Midst (EP)

Leland Philpot Psalms in the Midst (EP) BabelScattered Productions (release date: October 5, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Chicago avant-garde gospel hip-hop artist Leland Philpot draws on hip-hop, jazz, gospel, and techno wizardry for his EP Psalms in the Midst. Billed as Philpot’s testimony set to music, the EP opens with the title track, a mini-sermon that serves as a general introduction. An aggressive rapper but a disinterested singer, Philpot rhymes rapid fire, near to breathlessly, on “The Gift,” as the beats beep and burble behind him like arcade games. Minimalist beats and gushes of quick rhyming also propel “Break ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 16, 2020

“Lord Give Me Another Chance” Apostle John E. Ross feat. Sean Scales & Tamara Lloyd Independent (preorder release date: November 13, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich A vocal duo of Sean Scales and Tamara Lloyd delivers a single so churchy that it all but stands up and testifies. A passionate plea for forgiveness, “Lord Give Me Another Chance,” written and arranged by Apostle John E. Ross, is fueled by the traditional gospel blues base and the 12/8 time signature that some elders call the “rocking chair” rhythm. Lead singer Scales offers fine singing at all ranges, from stave-topping falsetto flights ...

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“Come Back” – Elain Thomas

“Come Back” Elain Thomas From the EP Transformations Independent (release date: October 6, 2020) www.reverbnation.com/elainthomas By Robert M. Marovich Anchored by bold and insistent Brazilian percussion, “Come Back” is Elain Thomas’s finest single to date. It’s a rhythmic rumination on God’s constancy, a conversation between the self-styled jazz psalmist and her Savior. In her resonant contralto, Thomas delivers the Lord’s declaration, “Backslider, you belong to me,” not as a command but as a given. Many songs lasting two-and-a-half minutes are fine where they are, but “Come Back” could have gone on much longer without any loss of listener interest.

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“It’s Gonna Be Alright” – Mie’L & Company

“It’s Gonna Be Alright” Mie’L & Company Shekaycie Music (release date: September 5, 2019) https://www.thebash.com/gospel-band/mie-l-company By Robert M. Marovich From its name, pronounced My-L, Mie’L & Company sounds like a male-led small choir. From the cover of its EP, Another Chance, with its photo of group leader Richie Irby, it appears to be a solo act. But listening to the EP, one discovers that this Roebuck, South Carolina, troupe sings with the downhome passion of a quartet. “It’s Gonna Be Alright” is by far the best of the EP’s three cuts. It is straight-ahead Sunday morning service gospel quartet singing, ...

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“Thank You Lord” – Pastor Mack Mason

“Thank You Lord” Pastor Mack Mason Independent (release date: October 17, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich Fronting a team of smooth female vocalists, Pastor Mack Mason doesn’t hold back as he testifies with gushes of gratitude on “Thank You Lord.” The robust-voiced Mason sings at the upper edge of his baritone range, revving up in the song’s vamp, which apexes in the song’s finest moment—an ad libbed shout of joy and relief: “You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had – whoooo!” A veteran radio announcer, author, and publisher, Pastor Mason now helms his grandfather’s church, Greater Prayer Garden Church ...

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