In a year of anticipated albums, few have garnered higher expectations than Donnie McClurkin’s. After Live in London and More an album that is still going strong two years after its release, the big question is, can his follow-up project hit with the same intensity of musicality and ministry? You’re there to pick me up each time when I fall down
Oh yes it can!
...Again maintains that live essence, some of the songs being recorded in Calfornia at West Angeles COGIC, Bishop Charles E. Blake’s church, joined on the choir side by the West Angeles COGIC Mass Choir, under the direction of Dr. Judith Christie-McAllister. The studio cuts, many of them from the hands of the veteran Kevin Bond, also maintain a live feel.
McClurkin’s vocals are as strong as ever, and his returning crew of top notch vocalists are still top notch.
The Long Island, NY-based pastor has the ability to bring home the intimacy that is at the very heart of the Gospel message the reality that the very Creator of the universe has opened the door for us to personally abide with him, through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. With the resonance of his warm baritone, his ability to reach un-strained sky-high registers and a richness of color that is without parallel in Gospel, God has given McClurkin exactly the right sound to convey this Truth.
A prime example is as song such as “All I Ever Really Wanted”, an introspective look at our day to day journey and an outward expression of how that pales in comparison to our God, who meets all
needs. Psalmists such as Noel Hall and Michael Bereal on keyboard, Jonathan DuBose, Jr. on guitar and the Nashville String Machine set this one off nicely.
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Then there’s “So In Love”, which is a marvel of melody-making. McClurkin works wonderfully with his backing vocalists, trading lines throughout the piece, and ensuring that this one sticks with you for a very long time.
On “Create In Me”, a triumphant melody sets the stage for this prayer. Though the text is actually a request of David, the spirit of the song is akin to Genesis 32, when Jacob wrestled with God and told Him he wouldn’t let go until he blessed him. Recorded live at West Angeles COGIC with choir behind, the song brings in Steven Ford for string arrangements.
Percy Bady steps in to produce two songs, including the title track, “Again”, a lightly-grooved song with beds of Ray Fuller’s acoustic guitar and ample bass from Andrew Gouche. The song subtly touches on McClurkin’s smash interpretation of “We Fall Down”, picking up that theme and expounding on it with the words:
You never seem to mind and You’re always treating me so kind
...Again I call You, and again You answer
Again I need You, and again You’re there
The first single from the album is “The Prayer”, a stand-out, strings-guided duet penned and produced by mega producer David Foster, and featuring McClurkin’s Hopeville Tour co-star, Yolanda Adams. Putting two of Gospel’s most recognizable voices together on an already-tested
song makes it a certainty that you will be hearing this one for years to come. No problem there, the song is a slow-tempo balladic masterwork that deserves mega-play.
McClurkin is in his element on “I'm Walking”, something that is bound to become a favorite of the youth, in no small part due to the contribution of the enthusiastic voices of the Antioch COGIC Children’s Choir. It begins with a pop feel but quickly transitions to a hard-hitting, percussive Jamaican churn, as McClurkin again appeals to the infectiousness inherent the islands. “Yes You Can” has a softer vibe, and is another encourager.
On “Special Gift”, McClurkin connects with Lynette Hawkins-Stephens to bring back her brother Walter Hawkins’ hit from 1988 album of the same name. McClurkin calls this ‘a gut-bucket gospel song”, and it is, the familiar melody moving back and forth between soloists, and culminating in a rousing full-throttle Gospel experience that includes plenty of horns.
The praise is tender on “Holy”, a composition from McClurkin that reaches out a pulls you in before you know what’s happened, with vertically-oriented lyrics and a simple, accessible song structure that has you singing along before the song’s even half over, as if you knew it all along.
“He’s Calling You” ends the album, a song supported by Doc Powell on guitar and Bobby Sparks and Shaun Martin on keys, where McClurkin puts to melody the lyric that sums up the purpose of his music.
Because with all the fame and accolades that he’s received over the past few years, Donnie McClurkin remains unwavering to the purpose in his ministry, and the reason for his praise, to call others into the life-changing experience of walking intimately with Jesus Christ.
Producers: Donnie McClurkin, Kevin Bond, Percy Bady
album release date: March 4, 2003
reviewed by Stan North and Melanie Clark —
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