BGA Records / Shanachie (release date: September 8, 2017)
By Bob Marovich
Depending on your political point of view, “winning” can be a timeless mantra or a creepy coded message. For Richmond, Virginia’s G.I., however, winning is not a political football but a forgone conclusion. Just believe. With God, they sing, it’s already done. For you.
Comprised of Branden Anderson, Lamonte Harris, and Rufus Johnson III, G.I. (aka God’s Image) is a harmony trio that falls somewhere between a modern quartet and a gospel group. Surrounding themselves with electronica, trap, hip hop, R&B, and other elements of urban music, the trio sings with a directness that exudes confidence in the rightness of their message. See our review of their 2008 single, “Something Got a Hold of Me.”
Indeed, confidence is the fulcrum that drives Winning. Time and again on the album – their third but first with Shanachie – the group reminds listeners that undue concern is unnecessary. On the album’s single, “Pray and Don’t Worry,” G.I. sings that “worry only makes you feel you can’t win.” The lovely ballad “We Win” asserts that quitters never win. “Moving Forward” urges us to keep moving even when we feel we are losing because, as “It Will Be Alright” reminds, God ensures that it “always works together in the end.”
With a vocal assist from TV One’s R&B Diva Keke Wyatt, “In Love with You” is one of those ambiguous love songs (ideal for weddings) that can be understood as love for a person or love for God.
The one straight-ahead no-frills contemporary gospel track on Winning, and the album’s finest moment, is G.I.’s cover of the Winans’ 1984 “Trust in God.” G.I. even experiments with atmospheric P&W on “I Need You Lord,” but what distinguishes them from other male gospel groups is their youthful urban sound, a winning combination, if you will, of experience and confidence.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Trust in God,” “We Win”