Bishop J. D. Means Sr.
If He Bring You to It. . . He’ll Bring You Through It
Mean Means Music Group (release date: October 29, 2018)
By Bob Marovich
Bishop J. D. Means Sr.’s CD If He Bring You to It. . .He’ll Bring You Through It is filled to the brim with music, so much so that it feels like two albums in one. Or maybe three, depending on how you look at it.
The first half of the album is comprised of newly-composed songs with heaping helpings of old-school soul. Means renders these fundamental songs of faith with the hard-singing passion of a quartet lead, which he was at one point in his career. The songs work well enough without the apparent nods to modernity, though, such as Auto-tune on “Thank You Lord,” keyboard-created panpipes on “Too Blessed to Be Stressed,” and synthetic ocean waves on “Everything to Me.” Means’s own accomplished Hammond B3 work amps up the trad cred throughout.
Bridging the first part of the album to the second part is the drive-tempo title track and its extended reprise. A pulpit vamp set to music, the song finds Means and his musicians and vocalists exploring biblical examples to confirm the message of this hand-clapping rave to the power of God. It’s a variation on the “He didn’t bring me this far to leave me” message of Curtis Burrell’s “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired.”
The second part of the album is given over to a litany of classic hymns raised with plenty of shouting and squalling, and featuring a quite remarkable, but uncredited, female second lead (Tiffany Andrews Woodside?). The best examples in this section are “Just to Behold His Face” and a rendering of “Uncloudy Day,” the clear fan favorite, that takes its inspiration from Myrna Summers’s popular version. Means accompanies himself on organ for “Tis So Sweet” and puts the B3 through its paces on instrumentals of “Blessed Assurance” and “Near the Cross.”
The third part of the album is comprised of two Christmas carols. “Joy to the World” is funky, up-tempo, and supremely confident. Means sounds less self-assured on a straightforward reading of “Oh Holy Night.”
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Bishop J D. Means Sr. started his recording career in 1985 with the Echoes of Harmony, and has continued to hone his down-home vocals and keyboard proclivities by working in the company of some of gospel’s most beloved traditional artists, such as Evangelist Dorothy Norwood, Albertina Walker, and the Georgia Mass Choir. If He Bring You to It. . . He’ll Bring You Through It showcases his loyalty to wooden church gospel as well as his pulpit skills as senior pastor and visionary of the Praise and Worship Celebration Center of Macon and Jonesboro, Georgia.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “If He Bring You to It. . .He’ll Bring You Through It,” “Just to Behold His Face.”