Reviews

“Going” – Christina Bell

“Going” Christina Bell Malaco Music Group (2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich When I first heard the Shreveport, Louisiana, female gospel group Zie’l singing a Ward Singers classic a cappella at the 2005 Gospel Music Workshop of America, I knew then it would be a group to watch. Though Zie’l tended to favor the smooth-and-sassy style of Virtue on their Genesis and Pronounced ZY-EL albums, their finest moments came when they worked within gospel’s firm foundations, such as on “Purify Me,” “Surely God is Able,” and “Is My Living in Vain.” Nevertheless, they always sounded better live. One of the principal ...

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Will Downing – The Promise

Will Downing The Promise Shanachie Entertainment (release date: November 30, 2018) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich Listening to R&B crooner Will Downing’s first gospel album, The Promise, is like hearing Peabo Bryson, George Benson, or Al Jarreau making a sacred album. It’s not surprising. Called “The Prince of Sophisticated Soul,” Downing has been melting hearts with interpretations of top-selling R&B songs since his debut self-titled album in 1988. For a long time, Downing’s mother had wanted him to make a gospel album, but when the singer was diagnosed with an illness called Polymyositis that almost took his life, he made the ...

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Earl Bynum – This Song is for You

Earl Bynum This Song is For You Lrae Entertainment / Tyscot Records / HBK Media (release date: October 5, 2018) www.EarlBynumMusic.com By Bob Marovich Gospel music enthusiasts can be forgiven if they are so accustomed to hearing Minister Earl Bynum appearing with the Mount Unity Choir of Chesapeake, Virginia, that they forgot he is also a solo recording artist. This Song is For You is Bynum’s third solo album and first in nearly a decade. It showcases his meaty, muscular male voice, a sound that dominated gospel music until recent years, though the trend among males now seems to favor ...

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“Turn Right and Go Straight” – Roscoe Robinson

“Turn Right and Go Straight” Roscoe Robinson ABKCO Music & Records (release date: June 29, 2018) By Bob Marovich On the subject of veteran travelers of the gospel highway, Roscoe Robinson has been singing gospel quartet, with a notable side trip as a national soul artist, since the early 1950s. “Turn Right and Go Straight” is Robinson without his recent quartet, the Birmingham Blind Boys, and with a roadhouse band, rocking electric guitar riffs, and righteous background vocalists.  In solid voice, Robinson employs travel directions as a metaphor to help the sinner guide his way to “the pearly gate.” The ...

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Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis – Super Excited

Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis Super Excited EmptyMe Entertainment (release date: July 20, 2018) www.vtkonline.com By Bob Marovich Recorded live at Hope Church of Memphis, Super Excited is the latest full-length project by that city’s Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis. For a decade, the rhythm and praise group and its singer-songwriter leader have worked within the high-spirited and dense choral sound of fellow Memphian the late O’Landa Draper. Super Excited follows the same extroverted musical path as the group’s 2012 Live in Memphis. The album’s eight songs are uncomplicated but their vocal and instrumental arrangements are anything but. The group’s singing is ...

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Bishop Leonard Scott – Jesus Love Legacy

Bishop Leonard ScottJesus Love LegacyTyscot Records (release date: August 31, 2018)www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich At times, gospel artists start their own independent record company to promote their talent. At other times, it’s the label owner who becomes the talent. The latter applies to Professor James Roberson of JDI Records and to Bishop Leonard Scott of Tyscot Records. Scott has stepped from behind the executive desk (and the dentist’s chair) to become the face and one of the voices of the Indianapolis, Indiana-based record company. On Scott’s latest project, Jesus Love Legacy, he surrounds himself with top-shelf singers, songwriters, and musicians, many culled ...

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Richard Davis – Christ the Lord (EP)

Richard DavisChrist the Lord (EP)R2D Music / Flaydo Music (release date: November 30, 2018)www.r2dmusic.com By Bob Marovich The title of Richard Davis’s Christmas EP comes from the reason for the season, from the album’s title track (and single), and from the lyrics of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” one of the songs in the “Christmas Rhapsody” instrumental medley that opens the four-track project. “Christmas Rhapsody” shifts from Trans-Siberian orchestral to funky as it sets the tone for a big production. And whether Davis is covering classic carols or rendering new songs, the constant is the fullness of the arrangements. The rhythm section fills all the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 10, 2018

“Cycles” Jonathan McReynolds feat. DOE From the eOne Music album Make Room (2018) By Bob Marovich Jonathan McReynolds and DOE (Dominique Jones of Forever Jones) go together like bacon and eggs. Musically, they are the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of Christian music. Their duet on the delicately acoustic and introspective “Cycles” has the simplicity of a living room jam session, though the presence of a live and engaged audience places a larger frame around the presentation. Lyrically, it is part prayer, part mantra, both seeking strength to overcome whatever life challenges the devil tries to throw at them. This ...

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God’s Chosen (self-titled)

God’s ChosenGod’s ChosenDREAM Records (release date: June 22, 2018)www.GC3Music.com By Bob Marovich Zebrina Anderson, Nikeisha Whittier, and Sarah Benibo are God’s Chosen (GC3), a trio designed to appeal to a multicultural Christian audience through its evocation of female gospel groups like Witness and Virtue as well as of megachurch praise teams. Their latest release, a self-titled album, includes mostly new compositions written by the ladies and co-producer John Strandell (who cameos on “I Want You”). AyRon Lewis and Levi “Too” King also contribute their estimable production talents to the project. Songs such as the strong opener “We’re Ready,” as well ...

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Lady Beatrice Ward & Angelic Voices: Lord Help Me

Lady Beatrice Ward & Angelic Voices Lord Help Me Independent (release date: March 25, 2018) By Bob Marovich From the lead guitar riffs that open “When Trouble Rise,” and the song’s incessantly chugging rhythm, you know that Lady Beatrice Ward and the Angelic Voices’ Lord Help Me is going to be deliciously old-school. Although a synth is tucked in there, the instrumentation is traditional and suitably supports the female quartet. And when the ladies are not singing at drive tempo, they favor deep southern soul tempos and arrangements. Some selections are quartet standards that the ladies tweak and twist. For example, “It’s ...

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