Tyscot Records (release date: June 22, 2018)
By Bob Marovich
It’s been five years since actor and P&W recording artist Javen released Worship in the Now – Live, but Grace is worth the wait.
Rare is the album that features so many quality original songs, but Grace is one of those. Javen Campbell wrote or co-wrote all of the material, save for “Amazing Grace.” And also with one exception (again, “Amazing Grace”), each track features a strong guest vocalist, the most notable of them being Tye Tribbett, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Tim Bowman Jr., and Candy West.
The album’s singular selections are “Right Now Praise,” an exuberant, beat-happy worship piece that is as outsized as its featured guest vocalist, Tye Tribbett. The gentle duet between Javen and Christina Bell on “You Lift Me Up” contributes to it being a strikingly beautiful selection. Javen, Bell, and the background vocalists eke so much emotion out of this song that it sends the entire company into rapturous praise. I suspect Javen’s recitation of Psalm 23 in the middle of the piece also helped set the tone.
Other highlights include the Imani Milele Children’s Choir adding Ugandan zest to the simple, antiphonal “Jehovah.” Candy West sings the stuffing out of “He Paid It All,” an exaltation for freedom from sin. The Voice contestant Johnny Rez translates the album’s meaty title track into a Spanish-language version. Javen renders “Amazing Grace” in its typical slow tempo, but the bracing string-driven arrangement makes it sound faster.
Javen, who honed his skills as a member of the Christian pop band Harvest and by ministering in multicultural churches in Florida, moves far more effortlessly between CCM and gospel than most, though an astute selection of features for this album also helps.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Right Now Praise,” “You Lift Me Up”