We call these our Gospel snapshots. Mostly independent releases, they deserve
attention. Continue to keep checking this page, as more will be added. (Check also our
hip-hop snapshot page).ó
reviewed by Stan North ó
Here's A Blessing
Weathering many a life storm yet always pulling through is the dominant theme in
Candi Staton's testimony. With this, her eleventh Gospel album, you find the full spectrum
of Staton's noted tone, spirit and vocal finesse. The project embraces
church classics, with the veteran reworking them
in her own style. Cuts such as "God Leads His Children Along" and "Come Ye Disconsolate" yield
comforting traditional, countrified, rollicking sounds. Backing vocals from Total Grace
and Jonathan Alvarado are emphatically superior.
Staton's opening duet with Dottie Peoples has given way to much of the press attention on this disc, and surely it's
a sensational cut, with fiery back and forth traded leads ("Shut Up and Start Praying"). But other
inclusions such as Staton's live takes of her 1997 hit
"Your Face Is The First Face I Want To See" with Joe Ligon, and her 1995
rocker "Mama" also deserve mention. And with a total of 15 tracks on Here's A Blessing, there
is no denying that for Staton's fans, it certainly is.
God Says You Can
Great VRME Music
Pouring her youthful and sweet expression into encouraging tracks,
Rebecca Eaglin impresses on her God Says You Can debut.
Itís a short project, but with nice production from Track
Design and ear-pulling layered harmonies and ad libbing
from Eaglin, itís a satisfying one.
The title track
is her own composition, and is the flagship cut, coming with
a remix as well. ďItís Not In VainĒ, including an acappella
mix thrown in, also deserves spotlight. Watch this teen.
Odis Richmond & Inner Court
Your Move Music
Arkansas-based Your Move Music brings Odis Richmond
and Inner Court to the fore on this live sophomore
project from the choir. Titled Tell Them, there's
a few notable names
involved on this project. These include Gerard Hairston who handles production
(he also produced MDM and Voices), Tyscot artist Garnelle
Spearman who guests on "Nothing Without You" and
Darryl and LaTonja Blair on guest vocals (Darryl was
formerly with Kirk Franklin and The Family), who
appear on "By His Grace".
A capable musician crew
(with Levi "Too" King on organ and Pat Franklin on
sax) allows Richmond and Inner Court to express their
praise over a backdrop of anointed sound. Check the
highly grooved "Jesus Is The One" for an excellent
example of an instrumental cut that transforms into a
vocal praise by track end.
Living Out His Love
Detroit-based David Gough is frequently referred to as
"The Mayor of Gospel". Call it a sign of respect for
his devotion to Gospel artists and their work over the
year he founded the Gospel Music Hall of Fame &
Museum. But Gough is also a businessman and an
artist, having started up his own label in the late
With his second project, Living Out His
Love, he puts his soft, high tenor, ballad stamp on
the project's ten songs, spinning out personal vibes
of worship, handling both solo and backing vocals.
Valdez Brantley brings his experience to the table,
handling instrumentation, arrangements and
co-production with Gough. The title track and the
melodic "Hold On" should complement quiet storm
Rosie Johnson Jake
Riding on Prayer
New Vision Production
Some people call her 'Miss Perfect', some call her 'Miss Thang',
but she doesn't really mind people calling her names, she knows who she is, she knows
who she serves, she's a child of the King.
So says Rosie Johnson Jake on the opening cut, "Do You Know Who You
Are? (Child of the King)", off of this sleeper of a project. Reminiscent at times
of Shirley Caesar, Jake has that old school vibe with a contemporary twist. Ten tracks
strong, the project excels in production quality and original songwriting. There's an abundance
of slower songs here, but it's "Around and Around", with its
heavily rhythmic backdrop that's the winning cut on Riding On Prayer.
Sons of Thunder
The four that make comprise The Sons of Thunder debut with a project heavy
on very close harmonies and ministering testimony. Centered on studio
cuts, contemporary rhythm tracks (with production courtesy of Andre T.
Campbell) dominate and bring home songs such as the smooth-flowing
"Completely Yours", which lyrically represents the focus of the group.
The killer track on the project is "There's Something 'Bout (Holy
Ghost)" which rides along boisterously with Donnie Bolden Jr. taking
lead and phat call and response from The Lighthouse For Jesus
Praisers. Another highlight is the gently melodic "Keep
On Blessing Me".
Clearly this CD is a labor of love, and while
there are some loose vocal ends that deserve attention on
the the close harmony cuts, the group shows promise.
Arualcat Music Company / Bonsai
On her sophomore solo project, singer-songwriter Laura Thompson
continues to create treads with
her distinctive combination of rich alto/tenor vocals and
creative, sometimes jazzy composition. She has a strongly melodic approach
that defies categorization into either the urban or traditional. And somehow she
does that even though there's some rap elements infused into several of the cuts.
Thompson shines strongest on her title cut, "Together". Encouraging believer unity,
she uses a clever melodic motif to bring home the point, and surrounds the composition with
some nice organ swirls and rhythms from TheEye. "Masa God" is catchy
tribute to Thompson's grandmother who, obviously from the style of the song, hailed from
the Carribean. Nice key changes, thickly stacked sound and reggae rap from Joey Allyne characterize the cut.
Production throughout the CD is credited to TheEye.
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