A Different Song
RCA Inspiration / CamDon Music
(release date: November 15, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
On the heels of the 20th anniversary celebration of the release of Live in London and More…, which contained the smash hit “We Fall Down,” multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Donnie McClurkin has dropped his eighth solo album, A Different Song.
The mostly live recording contains eight McClurkin originals. While some songs are straightforward P&W fare, a few are decidedly different, in keeping with the album’s promise. One is the opener, “I Will Call Upon the Lord.” It’s an antiphonal Praise & Worship piece with a decidedly Middle Eastern-flavored riff that surprises by transitioning into a chorus that evokes a traditional hand-clapper.
Another “different” track, and one of the album’s best, is the intimate and conversational “His Ways.” It sounds culled from a Broadway musical libretto, the type of selection sung by a solo voice on a darkened stage. It’s McClurkin trying to understand why God does what He does. He comes to the conclusion that trying to foretell God’s plan is a fool’s errand. “His way is not our way / And His plan is not our plan / Sometimes God takes away or gives us by His hand.”
Broadway is evoked again on the closer, “I Won’t Complain.” Rather than render the Reverend Paul Jones’ beloved ode of gratitude with the vocal histrionics most gospel singers, including the composer himself, have given it, McClurkin’s version is downright theatrical.
“There is no Question,” a simmering P&W piece, contains lyrics rendered in Spanish. McClurkin sings in Portuguese on the hypnotically flowing “Let it Go.”
In addition to showcasing some distinctive selections, McClurkin uses the album to bridge Christian divides. For example, he blends some of P&W’s biggest multicultural radio hits, including Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God” and VaShawn Mitchell’s “Nobody Greater,” into a heart-pumping medley. It becomes a worship session for the listeners and for McClurkin, who speaks in tongues several times during the nine-and-a-half-minute piece. The theme of amity comes through lyrically on “Every Tribe,” a poignant and anthemic declaration of universal unity under the Lord.
One of the album’s current singles, “There is God,” offers thanksgiving to God as well as encouraging messages to anxious listeners. Its heartwarming lyrics are carried along on an equally uplifting melody and arrangement. “Pour My Praise on You” is conventional P&W with a pleasant melody and brisk tempo; it will undoubtedly enter the repertories of worship teams nationwide.
The title line of the radio-friendly “Not Yet” is a mantra for those who want to give up on their dreams and throw in the towel when the breakthrough feels out of reach. This song, written by McClurkin after his auto accident, feels like a BeBe Winans ballad. Songs with important lessons, such as “Not Yet” and “His Ways,” are the most important cuts on the album.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Not Yet,” “His Ways,” “There is God”