Andrae Crouch
The Journey

Arguably the most widely recognized artist in Gospel, (eight Grammies, a host of film contributions, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (read feature) and songs peppered throughout the Gospel hymnal), Andrae Crouch shows that his gift is intact on The Journey, a star-studded release on RiverPhlo Entertainment.

Produced by Luther "Mano" Hanes (CeCe Winans, Joann Rosario, Ledisi, Fred Hammond, Kurt Carr, Israel & New Breed), the project features the unmistakeable songwriting of Crouch, with guest artists that include Chaka Khan, Sheila E., Pastor Marvin Winans, Rance Allen and Kim Burrell. Of course, familiar vocal collaborators such as Tata Vega, LeAnne Palmore and Linda McCrary are also in the mix.

CDCrouch has always had a knack for combining both music and lyrics so that one cannot be teased apart from the other. The basic Gospel message is always at the root of his lyrics: the opening song, "Somebody Told Me About Jesus", being a case in point. With Tata Vega up front, this is classic Andrae Crouch.

On "Faith", the inimitable Kim Burrell teams with Take 6 for a rich tapestry of jazzed Gospel vocals. Contrasting is "All Around the World," a dance pop cut that brings in Chaka Khan on vocals, backed up by a stellar band that includes percussion from Sheila E.

Pastor Marvin Winans appears on two songs, but you'll have to be persistent to locate the second. "Let The Church Say Amen" is the first, with Crouch's signature songwriting touch taken to its limit by Winans' vocal prowess. "The Promise" is the second, but you'll have to patiently let the CD silently mark tracks to find it hidden at the end of the set —after Crouch himself takes vocal lead on the first version of this testimonial song.

There's plenty more to dig into here -and you'll find yourself spending days doing that, as so many songs lend themselves to multiple plays due to their depth. Check out Daniel Johnson on "Jesus Came Into My Life" and Rance Allen on the boisterous "Heaven Bound", among others.

Here's hoping that The Journey gains the attention it so richly merits.

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Production: Various
album release date: 2011
RiverPhlo Entertainment

— reviewed by Stan North

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