Kell Bailey
Independent (release date: May 26, 2023)

By Robert M. Marovich

Kell Bailey’s Evidence is a collection of bracing P&W selections with traces of hymnody embedded in their DNA. Whether the tempo is fast or slow, the arrangements are buoyant, the singing is extroverted, the musicians are tight and professional, and the lyrics, though aimed at a congregation, are ultimately lofted vertically.

One thing listeners will discover in this follow-up to the Richmond, Virginia-born Bailey’s 2020 full-length debut album, Freedom Is Here, is that it is festooned with featured vocalists. Bailey passes the lead microphone around liberally. For example, the invigorating single, “Faithful God,” features vocal assists by Jeremy McKain and Mariah Lanee’. Cierra and Corey Kennedy team up with the VCU Black Awakening Choir on “Close,” which transitions to its musical twin, “Draw Me Close.” From there, it’s just a short hop to the Fanny Crosby hymn, “Draw Me Nearer,” which Cierra sings with prayerful passion. Corey’s compelling vocals return on the ballad “God Will Fight My Battles.”

Alicia Peters-Jordan flexes her powerful and melodic alto on the hymn-like “We Exalt Thee,” receiving ample support from the background vocalists’ tight, friendly harmonies. For my money, this selection, with its more relaxed musical backdrop, delivers better than most on the album.

On the light and cheery “God Did It,” featured vocalist Samantha Michelle sees her life plan blossom before her eyes and expresses gratitude to the Lord for what he has done for her.

The album’s production is crisp and solid, and while none of the songs jump out as a surefire hit, they all have motive energy and are delivered with verve. Taken as a collection, Evidence thrums with the youthful electricity of a megachurch prayer service.

Four of Five Stars

Picks: “We Exalt Thee,” “God Will Fight My Battles”

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.