Brief album reviews! Check out these projects that have recently caught our attention. More brief reviews will continually be added to this page, so be sure to bookmark this spot and keep posted. (Back to main review page)
Connell Lewis and Cornerstone
Hailing from Minneapolis, newcomers Connell Lewis and Cornerstone turn heads with Faith, their strong debut from Cornerstone Records. Lewis' strong, rich tenor anchors this mostly urban, vocals-based album, with his six-member backing crew adding rich, resonant and full sound all the way through. Lewis joins with the veteran Jack Robinson (Prince) in production, making things sparkle. "Lord", lead by Robert "Eddie" Robinson, is a prayer and a plea, an intercession for those not yet in the fold. The song is made the stronger from the evident personal testimony found in the piece.
From there, the dance-steady "I Believe" (featuring Theresa Howliet) ups the ante, and the worship ballad / groove of "Holy Lamb" provides a nice contrast. Other gems are the inspirational, scripture-laden jam, "Don't Give Up" and the intricately arranged "Jesus".
Larger Than Life
Church House Records
Detroit native Eric Deon steps out from Derrick Starks and Today's Generation with a solo project that shows promise in abundance. Larger Than Life has him offering up thirteen original songs in the contemporary vein. Deon's strength is heard easiest in songs where his vocals are front and centre. The contemplative "Ready About Me" is stellar, as is the Sunday morning rework of "You Brought Me From A Mighty Long Way". Over complex organ finesse of Greg Pearson, Deon soars on "I Have The Faith".
With pipes that have that appealing smoothness but with enough of churchy edge, Eric Deon is in position to become one of the industry's voices of the future.
Peace of Mind
Peace of Mind, a trio of youthful voices that includes Patty Perrin, Ayona' P. Reeves and Zawahn, brings a full, rounded vocal sound that is heavy on harmony on their debut EP, The Elements. A gorgeous acappella arrangement by Reeves is the highlight of "Jesus Suffered", and the voices-only ride continues into an original arrangment of "The Lord is My Shepherd". Intricate runs, spot-on tuning and impeccable timing mark the song.
Guest Walter Johnson joins in on "King of Glory", with some memorable leads and also in the mix is "Searching", with a keyboard and rhythms accompaniment from John Doe. Remember this group Peace of Mind is on track.
Treasures of the Heart
Featuring acoustic soul, high tenor praise and guitar-accompanied ballads, Thomas Sligh's Treasures of the Heart is fourteen tracks of tender music from Sanctifly Music Group. Songwriter David Stevens pens much of the material on the project.
A high point of the project is Sligh's take on "Blessed Assurance", over seven minutes of song with ad lib vocals over a catchy chorus harmony. The title track brings in the Latin guitar of Darryl Johnson as Sligh expresses his soul's satisfaction with Jesus over close harmonies. "Job Song" is powerful scripture set to music, the conversation between God and his man poured out soulfully in vocals.
Eddie Ruth Bradford
Too Close To The Mirror
Eddie Ruth Bradford brings her low alto to the scene with a quality project titled Too Close To The Mirror. Produced by old school R&B legend and now Juana Records CEO Frederick Knight, Bradford excels at imparting her Missippippi Delta roots to ten songs, many of them tried and true Gospel favorites. The spiritual "Trouble Of The World" and Albertina Walker's "I've Got A Feeling (Everything's Gonna Be Alright)" are exemplary, filled with beautiful, moanful, soulful vocals and accompanied by just the right touch of unobtrusive background track. "Because He Lives" and "It Will Be Glory" come alive, and the more contemporary, self-examining title track is storming radio.
COGIC Mount Zion District Choir
The COGIC Mount Zion District Choir, comprised of youthful members from multiple churches of the COGIC Indiana First Jurisdiction, and debuts with a choir-lovers album titled The Beginning. Under the leadership of Eric Washington, the choir stays true to the tradition with sizzling cuts such as the stompy, riverside "I"ve Been Born Again" featuring Loretta Thames. Also on the live project is the dramatic, nearly theatrical story-telling composition titled "Genesis", which comes complete with narration, choir interplay and rippling piano work from Floyd Thomas.
The Dynamic Davis Sisters
Grace-ful Melodies Records
Newcomers The Dynamic Davis Sisters are a family foursome that garner attention by way of their smooth vocal blend and ability to tackle a variety of styles. Consisting of twins Shana and Chimaria and with younger sister Shanetha and their mother Carol, the group offers an unusual mix of blend-focused, harmony-heavy, contemporary-flava'd worship. Sung from the heart, songs such as "He Reigns" drive along with high energy contemporary fuel, while "With My Song" showcases the sweet tones of the girls' vocals. From there, acappella opening "Thou Are Worthy" and the radio delight "You Oughta Know Jesus" capture attention.
With all that they have going for them, perhaps the most jolting is that the songs on the project are all written by member Carol V. Davis, with the sole exception being "Wonderful", from Shana. The full package and the real deal, The Dynamic Davis Sisters are indeed worthy of that 'dynamic' descriptor.
God's Turn Records
Vocalist and balladeer Ernest Pugh offers up a five-song EP strong on buttery vocals, gently urban production values from the renowned Valdez Brantley and a soothing ministry that puts the focus on the comfort that only Jesus can provide. The DC-based minister of music hooks up with songwriter Carnell Murrel to write the oh-so-smooth "My Refuge". It's a mid-tempo song that is characteristic of the short project Pugh's richly-colored tenor is out front with minimal track to distract. "He Already Knows" is slightly more upbeat, with a sweet groove and melody, while "Stay Focused" incorporates a hip hop feel with thickly harmonized chorus background. The one drawback to Seasons Change is that it ends too quickly!.
More Brief Reviews: Brief Reviews 1, Brief Reviews 2
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