Some areas seem to foster specific types of talent: Chicago offers great traditional choirs, Detroit delivers astounding vocalists and the Eastern US seaboard is ripe with contemporary mass vocals.Producers: Various
album release date: February 19, 2002
Likewise, Oakwood College (Huntsville, Alabama) has come through with more than their fair share of Gospel names, with alumni such as Virtue, Sharon Riley, Take 6 and Chris Willis leading the way.
Chapter 5 is the latest to emerge from the campus shadows, and like those who have gone before, they showcase stunning vocals and resonant songwriting. Yes they are newcomers, but it is no exaggeration to say that with their debut self-titled project, they turn the page in the category of contemporary Gospel groups. They're the definition of soulful expression, and their debut is jam-packed with hits.
Like their secular counterparts, Chapter 5 Nygel Turman, LaMont Martin, Calvin Manley, Sean Simmonds and David Caldwell III have plenty to sing about on the topic of love. Forget about bump 'n grind here, the focus is squarely on the beauty of love the way God intended it to be. Expressive lyrics wrapped in glorious musicality (of all sorts) capture the essence of their thought.
In a radical departure from the paths of their Oakwood College peers, these five show an affinity to all things urban. Bangin' beats and the latest in studio artistry accompany several of the fifteen tracks on their debut.
"Tempted" throws down a head-bobbing, shuffling rhythmic-based groove with Jamaican-styled DJ interjections. Defy as you might, this hype prayer asking God for protection from temptation etches itself into the memory, just as it should.
Other urban hits include "Make A Change" and "Creep-n" lifestyle story-cuts that warn of the dangers of walking astray and offer the Way back to the straight and narrow.
The Book on Chapter 5
Toronto native and group member Sean Simmonds gives a brief summary of Chapter 5:
"We've been together as a group for about three and half years. We first met up while attending school in Huntsville, Alabama at Oakwood College. The five of us share songwriting duties and we were all actively involved with this project."
"I would define our sound as unique and diverse. We have the ability to execute a ballad very soft and melodically wrapped with Chapter 5's signature as well as do an upbeat urban laced track with hard razor edge harmony."
"We listen to just about everything, but you would probably find Commissioned or Montrel Darrett in the CD player right now. Our musical influences would have to be Commissioned, Fred Hammond, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Montrel Darrett and Kim Burrell."
Superb production from Eric Johnson and D. Christopher Jennings will have Jeep stereo salesmen across the nation smiling from ear to ear.
The tempo slows mid-project, with a greater emphasis on vocals (and less on beats). Here's where the group shines, their tight harmonies and close blends floating on acoustic beds of guitar and soft rhythms. As strong as that blend is, it's not cookie-cutter voices, as the distinctive vocal textures of each member brings out their own distinct personalities.
Their take on the Sunday School standby "In My Heart Rings a Melody" eases the familiar tune into fresh meaning.
Serious harmonies take front seat on 'Other Side" as Chapter 5 shows some distinct Take 6 influence. "Over Again", a sit-back-and-smile honey of a cut, honors the unconditional love of God, and "Believe In Love" is a fast-paced vocals-woven masterpiece about the intricacies and beauty of love.
The "Calvary" interlude and "Create In Me" are perhaps the defining moments of the project, reflective ballads that put the shine on God's ultimate expression of Love in the person of Jesus Christ, and the impact that He can have on us, if we choose to let Him.
If you ever needed an excuse to throw out some of those mainstream R&B albums you may have stashed in the back closet, then this would be it.
It wouldn't be a mistake, because with Chapter 5 you'd be replacing them with something far superior on every level.
reviewed by Stan North —
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