Choir Boyz
Ordered Steps

This debut project from a seasoned group of five delivers a wealth of musical maturity through the CD speakers. More importantly, these Choir Boyz bring an obvious bounty of spiritual experience as reflected in thoughtful and life-relevant lyrics.

Composed of Martin Wilson, Darrell Holmes, Richard Yerby, Derek Owens and Randy Choir Boyz CDRoberts, these Choir Boyz each hail from Baltimore, bringing with them life baggage from experiences of street fame, fortune and despair. Through song, they use the contents of this baggage to demonstrate that only Jesus Christ brings true satisfaction and security.

The vocal and songwriting skills that they picked up along the way are in plenty display, as they hand back this heavy talent to God.

Assisting in the endeavour are Jae Deal and Ishmael Moaney, both of whom produce and handle instruments, with Booker T. Jones III at the mixing board. This is clearly a no-nonsense team that gels, as they generate a crisp and snappy production quality.

With a vibe along the lines of ‘polished urban’, theChoir Boyz 14-track set avoids cliched beats and abandons cookie-cutter lyrics, opting instead for an originality that shines so bright, you may want to grab your shades.

The album begins with musical intro featuring dramatic piano and the string composition of Darin Atwater (from the Richard Smallwood camp), before letting loose with “Furnace”. This cut uses a ‘furnace – life’ metaphor, tosses in the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego story for good measure, and features a sensational hook on the chorus:

'I’ve been in the furnace too long
Pressure’s so strong
I’m going crazy
Oh Lord, please save me'


The song sets the tone for the album, and considering the background of the group members, might be considered autobiographical. Group member Randy Roberts writes most of the material on the project, and this song is a great example of his fluid writing style.

Former Xscape member Latocha Scott takes center stage as guest on “You’ll See The Sun”, an encouraging mid-tempo duet with the Boyz that again is enhanced by Atwater’s orchestral arrangements. “Real Men” takes on a rarely-voiced topic, speaking to how ‘real men’ love Jesus Christ first, and how it’s only through an intimacy with Him that a man can truly learn to love Choir Boyzhis wife. Group members trade leads througout this balladic cut.

“UR” is a God-directed, funk-splashed number with acoustic piano and up-front vocals which blend expertly. On “No Wayz Tired”, you can hear the Cleveland classic given a millenial touch. The judicial use of trombone combined with understated rhythms and contemporary vocals gives this one a fresh sound with just enough of a connection to the original to make it legit.

Give this album a spin and you’re in for a treat, as the Choir Boyz have ensured that there’s enough musical glue to keep it stuck in your changer for a long, long time.

Producers: Jae Deal, Ishmael Moaney, Randy Roberts
album release date: September, 1999
Platinum Hill Entertainment

— reviewed by Stan North

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