Reviews

Damara Melissa – Beginnings (EP)

Damara Melissa Beginnings (EP) (release date: February 24, 2022) www.damaramelissa.com By Robert M. Marovich From Whitby, Ontario, singer-songwriter Damara Melissa evokes CCM singers Jamie Grace, Tori Kelly, and Nicole C. Mullins. Following a few recent singles, Beginnings is her first EP. Commencing her writing career to channel her emotions after the passing of her father, Damara expresses in the pop-flavored songs on Beginnings the intimacy of a soul transitioning from hurting to healing, from vulnerability to victory. The prayerful and self-empowering “Brave” is the current streaming favorite, but to my ears, “Invisible” is the EP’s highlight. This ballad about a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  April 26, 2022

“I Got Joy” The Dorsetts Independent (release date: January 6, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Husband-and-wife duo Arnold and Sharee Dorsett—known as the Dorsetts—offer “I Got Joy,” a simple tune with an easy rhythm and a catchy refrain that not only establishes the premise of the song but invites a congregational singalong and possibly a pleasant earworm. The song takes for its text the latter half of John 16:22: “your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” The Dorsetts hail from Wilmington, Delaware. As far as I can tell, this is their debut single.

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Lawrence Hancock – Don’t Stop Caring

Lawrence Hancock Don’t Stop Caring Independent / Symphonic Distribution (release date: April 29, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Don’t Stop Caring is Bishop Lawrence Hancock once again baring his soul and sharing the raw truth from the pulpit of experience. The Stellar-nominated Christian hip hop artist’s eighth album builds on his distinctive style of delivery: an atmospheric kaleidoscope of computer-generated electronica and rhythm supporting stream of consciousness lyricism. As such, Hancock is like a sacred version of a beat poet. As on 2020’s Who I Am and last year’s Need of You, Hancock prays out loud in a pleading, multi-tracked ...

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Gregory King – Jesus Paid It All

Gregory King Jesus Paid It All The LAB Works Studio / Nadjaron Productions (2012) By Robert M. Marovich Although Nobody Can Do Me Like Jesus,” “Payday is Coming,” and the title track of Gregory King’s 2012 album may share titles with popular hymns and gospels, that’s where the similarity ends. What you hear are newly-composed songs by King cloaked in an ‘80s funk sensibility. Thumping bass, Morris Day-era polyrhythms, pop melodies, slick call-and-response, and bits of electronica highlight this throwback album. Even King’s measured vocals, eschewing melisma for dance floor cool, evoke ‘80s R&B. Among the several featured soloists on ...

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“Beautiful Day” – Trenton Kirksey ft. Nikki Ross

“Beautiful Day” Trenton Kirksey ft. Nikki Ross Independent (2022) www.Facebook.com/MusicByTrent By Robert M. Marovich “Beautiful Day” is the debut single from Trenton Kirksey, a Houston-based baritone vocalist, songwriter, and conductor. Fellow Houstonian Nikki Ross is the vocalist on Kirksey’s track. To a classically-inspired and Latin-fired arrangement, Ross expresses unbridled joy not just in her experience of reality, with all of the sadness and happiness life brings, but also in the faith that the day forthcoming will be beautiful. To reinforce the point, a full-throated choir chants from 2 Corinthians 5:7—“not by sight but by faith”—behind her. A morning mantra, if ...

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Martha Munizzi – Best Days

Martha Munizzi Best Days Martha Munizzi Music (release date: July 29, 2021) www.marthamunizzi.com By Robert M. Marovich Martha Munizzi’s latest live album, Best Days, is a well-orchestrated worship service that focuses on the reasons to celebrate, not worry, in the midst of today’s uncertainty. The paradox of joy in the midst of a raging storm permeates the project—after all, the album was recorded in November 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. It’s also the ultimate test of faith, Munizzi teaches, in songs that are energetic and pop-inflected with beefy instrumental flourishes. She assumes pastoral authority, exhorting during songs, encouraging ...

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Psalmist Raine & the ReFresh Team – ReFresh Worship Live 3.3

Psalmist Raine & the ReFresh Team ReFresh Worship Live 3.3 ReFresh Institute (release date: March 25, 2022) www.BeReFresh.com By Robert M. Marovich One thing is certain about Psalmist Raine’s ReFresh Worship Live 3.3: it keeps on going and going and going. The final disc of the three-volume ReFresh Worship Live 3: The Fellowship of Sons and Brethren by newly-ordained Apostle Larraine McCaa, known as Psalmist Raine, has a musical stream of consciousness quality. Indeed, fashioning an improvised extended worship piece was intentional: though some songs were rehearsed in advance, others were created on the spot by the singers and musicians ...

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JGM Pick of the Week – March 28, 2022

“All of My Help” The Dedicated Souls Elite and Creative Music Productions By Robert M. Marovich If “All of My Help” by the Ohio-based Dedicated Souls sounds like a Canton Spirituals track, it’s because it was written, produced, and is led by the Canton Spirituals’ own Antoine Porter. The message is clear: when you try to do right and your family and friends still scandalize your name, don’t fret. Just remember who has your back. The drive-tempo track chugs along to a hypnotic vamp, thanks to percussive guitar work that fronts a riveting rhythm section. It’s the kind of vibrant ...

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Various Artists – Malaco 50th Celebration

Various Artists Malaco 50th Celebration Malaco Music Group (release date: February 25, 2022) www.malaco.com By Robert M. Marovich The nearly two-hour Malaco 50th Celebration two CD set (and companion DVD) is one of the best releases thus far this year. Recorded live on July 12, 2018, at the record company’s golden anniversary gala at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi, the package pairs current gospel stars with classic songs from Malaco’s gospel archives. Since the label owns the licensing rights to gospel music from such iconic labels as Apollo, Savoy, Atlanta International Records, Muscle Shoals Sound, GosPearl, and Onyx, it ...

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“He Lives” – Corey Weaver

“He Lives” Corey Weaver Independent (release date: March 8, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Corey Weaver, a young man from Oklahoma City with an old soul and a sky-high tenor, takes listeners to church on “He Lives.” It’s his finest single to date. Weaver and his background vocalists engage in playful call-and-response from the beginning of the track through to the vamp and Weaver’s extended high note that soars during the song’s fadeout. The warbling organ and two-stepping rhythm section contribute to the overall church cred. Naturally, “He Lives” is suitable for Easter, but at the same time, Weaver declares ...

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