Reviews

Mavis! the Documentary as Effervescent as Its Subject

Mavis! Produced and Directed by Jessica Edwards www.mavisfilm.com Airs Monday, February 29, 8:00 p.m. CT (HBO) By Bob Marovich – Journal of Gospel Music Mavis!, the first full-length film to chronicle the life and artistry of Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers, is one of the most entertaining, moving, and informative music documentaries I have seen in a while. Over the past year, this biopic has crisscrossed the country and the world, screening for film festivals and special gatherings, such as the one I attended last Monday at Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History. The film will finally make its ...

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Dynamic Abraham Brothers – Use What I Have

The Dynamic Abraham Brothers Use What I Have New Ham Records By Bob Marovich I don’t know what else the Dynamic Abraham Brothers could possibly have done to make Use What I Have a more archetypal gospel quartet album. First, the quintessential quartet drive tempo quickens the title track as well as the handclapping “God Wants to Move” and “No More Yokes.” Whereas gospel quartet albums today have one, maybe two, drive songs, Use What I Have has three. Second, the lyrics cover well-trodden quartet territory, which means country church wisdom that has been the foundation of gospel music for ...

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“My All and All” – Derrell Thomas

“My All and All” Derrell Thomas Full Circle Records www.fullcirclerecords.us Commencing with a compelling piano intro that resonates with Elton John’s deftness for encircling a melody with bright and shiny musical jewels, Derrell Thomas’s “My All and All” offers a melody and chorus that combine to be one heck of an earworm. Lyrically, the single gushes with simple statements of praise to the Lord. The Lord is not just a friend, Thomas sings, but “the very air that I breathe…my everything.” There’s not much to it, but the song works largely because of that relentless earworm melody. Born in Florida, Derrell Thomas ...

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Jor’Dan Armstrong – Confident EP

Jor’Dan Armstrong Confident SeaQ/Good Guys (release date: January 1, 2016) www.jordanarmstrongmusic.com By Bob Marovich Almost immediately after the clock signaled the start of 2016, Jor’Dan Armstrong dropped his six-track EP, Confident, possibly making it the first gospel release of the new year. The timing is not coincidental. Armstrong has deemed this EP somewhat of a new direction for him. Indeed, while the messaging is just as positive and encouraging as his other releases, such as last year’s lively 25 Days of Summer, the music—from the opening siren strains of “All I Know” to the concluding tones of the evangelistic “So For ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 1, 2016

“By Myself” Deon Kipping From the RCA Inspiration EP A Place Called Victory (2015) www.rcainspiration.com The latest single from Deon Kipping’s A Place Called Victory EP is among his best tracks to date. “By Myself” has a hypnotic and ever-expanding arrangement, layered bit by bit with background vocals and more musicians until it apexes, then cools down.  All of this underpins a simple message: without God’s help, nothing we do individually will work. God must be in these details, because the recording works.  It could well be one of JGM‘s Best Singles of the Year.  Guaranteed to get arms waving ...

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Deon Kipping – A Place Called Victory (EP)

Deon Kipping A Place Called Victory EP RCA Inspiration (January 8, 2016) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Connecticut’s Deon Kipping stepped into the gospel music spotlight first as a songwriter (with JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise’s “Incredible God, Incredible Praise”) and as a featured vocalist almost immediately thereafter (on “Incredible God, Incredible Praise”). From there, his music and singing took him to the Billboard charts. A Place Called Victory is Kipping’s latest release and as an EP, it is a foretaste of a full album soon to follow. The four selections are well chosen because they are all effervescently sung by ...

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Kassandra McGhee – Heavenscape: A Call to Worship

Kassandra McGhee Heavenscape: A Call to Worship (release date: August 28, 2015) www.mypower4living.com By Bob Marovich Ten tension-taming tracks comprise Evangelist Kassandra McGhee’s latest album, Heavenscape: A Call to Worship. True to its title, and in keeping with McGhee’s work as a praise and worship singer in and around Chicago, the songs in lyric and arrangement are all about vertical praise. It is clear from the opening selection, “Prelude of Worship,” that McGhee’s songwriting and voice have matured greatly since her 2009 release, Completely. First off, she is a more confident soprano, showing greater strength and support, but not to the ...

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“Jesus” – Rodriquez Linson & Ministry

“Jesus” Rodriquez Linson & Ministry Linson Enterprise & BigBoyMusicGroup www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RodriquezLinsonMinistry Detroit organist Rod Linson & Ministry’s single, “Jesus,” is an intense call-and-response invocation of the Lord’s name and goodness. With flourishes of thunderous harmony, the ensemble sings in a minor key but resolves the motives in a major key. Nominated for four 2016 Rhythm of Gospel Awards, the group released its debut album, Oh Lord, Hear My Cry (Psalms 141) in late 2014. Fellow Detroiter Dr. E. LaQuint Weaver contributes two lead solos on the album.

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New Friendship Anointed Voices – Legacy Fulfilled

Pastor Royce F. Thompson Sr. Presents New Friendship Anointed Voices A Long Time Coming: Legacy Fulfilled (released December 12, 2015) www.nfmbcofgary.org By Bob Marovich A Long Time Coming: Legacy Fulfilled may be the first gospel CD to recommend itself solely on the basis of its praise break alone. Not that the other tracks on the Gary, Indiana, church’s debut album aren’t quality—they certainly are—but the nine minute praise break that follows Anthony Hardin’s hand-clapper “Just Like You” represents the exuberant Holy Ghost experience better than any project has in a long time. The listener feels as exhausted as those who ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 18, 2016

“Trust and Depend” Voncile Belcher From the CD Phenomenal www.ladyvoncile.com Taken at pulse-racing praise break tempo, “Trust and Depend” finds traditional gospel singer Lady Voncile Belcher clad in her shouting shoes, evangelizing to the congregation about the importance of leaning on the Lord during the toughest of times. If your “life’s in despair” or your “bills are due and all your money’s gone,” the Alabama native sings, trust Him. You can imagine her walking the full length of the aisle teaching this time-honored lesson. Meanwhile, the synth imitates brass as the drums bear down with a vengeance. Quick and effective.

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