Gospel Snapshot (3)
Welcome to the next segment of our 'Gospel snapshots'. Our aim here is to draw some attention to deserving artists that have stepped out on their own, usually without the support of large style record labels. We've previously shone the spotlight on several such groups (see our 'album' of
Gospel Snapshots 1 and
Gospel Snapshots 2, in addition to our
reviewed by GospelFlava.com Staff —
Below you'll find yet more Gospel releases to discover, so take the opportunity to explore beyond the obvious. You'll be surprised, blessed, and probably delighted at what you find.
Marty Martin presents The Shekinah Singers
Lord, Touch Me
Formerly with O’landa Draper’s Associates, Arkansas-native Marty Martin pumps out the mostly traditional praise on his debut Lord, Touch Me, accompanied by his powerful nine Shekinah Singers.
The first thing that strikes is the immensity of the wall of sound emanating from such a small vocal ensemble! Martin writes or co-writes all nine songs on the self-produced project, and mixes it up with lead vocals from various group members. Musical grounding from synths, organ, strings and keys swell underneath much of the material, with richly textured chorus support on top.
“Lord I Thank You” is a prime cut, with DeWayne Allen joining Martin on soulful lead. The title cut registers on the Richter scale, with an earthshaking bass groove, good choir part interplay and earnest lyricism that expresses our weakness and our absolute reliance on Jesus for his touch. Arnita Lynn Williams marks “Gotta Keep Running On” with nice touch of mid-tempo jazz vocal influence, and blends of live instrumentation and crowd enthusiasm.
Sure to ignite the fires of those looking for a fresh, traditionally-edged vibe, Marty Martin with The Shekinah Singers are just that spark and then some.
Khesha Becton and New Day
Masterpiece Christian Records
The musical approach is definitely jazz on this project from Khesa Becton and New Day (aka KBand). The ten vocalists equal parts family and friends that comprise this St. Louis-based group, mesh their stylings into the work of the able band that backs them. With free style vocal and solo lines, they frequently rely more on innovative jamming than melody, digging their own niche in the process.
On Beginnings, cuts such as the busy "Rhapsody in Praise" and the more laidback "Jesus Saves" highlight the musicality of the group and define the jam style they excel at. "He's The One" brings a smile for the hint of reggae vocals that lace the chorus, and on the hit front, "Addicted To You" contains enough melodic elements for that memory stick. Throughout this project, Becton and New Day demonstrate their talent for vocals. While it may not be quite what you're used to, snag this one for its sheer refreshing creativity.
Capital Temple Ministries
As is the case for so many quality independent projects that find themselves searching for a wider audience, the hope is always that it's simply a matter of time. For Gospel enthusiasts everywhere, let's just say that that time can't come soon enough for Remnant, a trio of vocalists (Robin Clark, Laureen Moncrief and Kathy Gorham) that hail from Capital Temple COGIC in Washington, DC.
Recorded live, Remant delivers a very generous 21 tracks of praise and worship focused material, all sweetened by the steady production hand of Danny 'McJam' McCrimmon.
With their experience as the in-house praise and worship team for Capital Temple each week, it's no surprise that the overwhelming strength of this project is in that vein. Supported by prominent keyboards and full band, the praise is in full effect on the multi-track "Worship From The Heart Medley", touching on favorites, infused with originals and gilded with new arrangements. Several soft, meditative cuts make impact as well: "Standing On Holy Ground", "Psalm of Praise", "A Yes Praise". The vocal blend from all three singers is flawless and thus, simply gorgeous.
Elsewhere on the project, the group deftly moves from slow, majestic soaring vocals such as on "Holy Is The Lord" to rousing and uplifting harmonies ("Celebrate His Holy Name", "Oh Give Thanks", "Garment of Praise"). To sum up, Remnant is an experiential joy. Check this one out.
It's All In The Name
The word "irayna" is defined as harmony between man and God, and between man and man. Taking their name and applying it to their ministry of reconciliation (racial and otherwise), Irayna is an Atlanta-based female trio (Kathy Temple, Angela Love, Lynne Swaney) that present a debut project straddling that sometimes precarious boundary between Gospel and Christian Contemporary.
Strong harmonies and plenty rhythms, all served up with pop-styled, polished, adult contemporary vocals marks this studio project, with producer Denver Wright stepping in to deliver the right amount of bounce. Strong cuts include “Holy, Holy, Holy” with its percolating acoustic percussion and guest vocals from Rev. Thomas Bannister. The laidback remake of the infectious “Don’t Pray (If You’re Going To Worry)” also makes inroads. Studio reverb is put to good use on selections such as “One Accord”, and the infectious pop jam, “Runnin’ For Cover”.
Not as deeply grooved as 1NC, but definitely more soulful than your standard CCM sound, Irayna makes everything work by never pretending to be what they aren’t. And their comfort with that makes this project worth listening to.
Donnie, Darryl & The Joy Boyz
Too Blessed to Be Stressed
Joyful Sound Records
Quartet styling is full steam ahead on this project from Donnie, Darryl & The Joy Boyz. The two diminutive brothers impact heavily with their hard-singing style and gritty focus, with full traditional sound support from a seasoned crew of four (the self-acclaimed Joy Boyz).
Catch “Love Lifted Me”, a two track composition that details God’s love through Jesus Christ. Gentle guitar amply fills the cracks with tender musings, contrasting nicely with the edgier vocals. The old-time favourite, “You Brought Me” gets a thoroughly bluesy treatment with gutsy vocals from Donnie and Darryl and appropriate rhythm, bass and guitar fills. The nod goes to The O’Neal Twins on a cover of their “Can’t Let A Day Go By”, as the soft melody surfaces with lyrics of thankfulness.
Ten tracks in total, Too Blessed To Be Stressed has plenty more to make this a worthy addition to any credible collection of traditional or quartet Gospel.
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