We Need Your Presence
Independent (release date: August 30, 2019)
By Robert M. Marovich
South Carolina singer Sondra Busby might be a contender for the title of “queen of the vamp.”
On her 2019 album We Need Your Presence, she tags several of her songs with a quartet-style vamp, improvising with an evangelist’s zeal over repetitive lines sung by the background vocalists, which are actually Busby, multi-tracked.
Among these are “The Place Where You Are Near,” “You’ve Been Good to Me,” and the title track. Busby steps right into the vamp, offering church mantras designed to rouse the audience and make the message stick. The best example is “Nothing But the Blood” and its especially infectious reprise. It’s when she and her musicians most let loose.
Busby sings with a quartet lead’s fervor and there are moments where everything comes together. There are others, however, when her voice sounds fatigued, especially during extended melismatic runs or when she reaches outside her range.
Like “Nothing But the Blood,” the album’s best selections are the traditional ones, such as “I Surrender All,” “Blessed Assurance,” and the “Worship & Praise Medley,” which does not include P&W songs but old Baptist devotionals. Still, even the new songs have a traditional feel. Of Busby’s own songs, the one that could find its way into other artists’ repertoires is the title track. It has an easy-to-learn melody and lyric, both ideal for worship teams.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “We Need Your Presence,” “Nothing But the Blood (Reprise)”