James Grear & Co.
The Next Level

James Grear & Co. came charging onto the scene in 1998 with their debut, Don’t Give Up, which charted well on both Billboard’s Gospel and R&B charts (see review).

While many artists flounder on their sophomore The Next Level CDefforts, such is not the case for this Minnesota-based ensemble. With The Next Level, the appropriate title rings true as they step up their efforts to deliver a diverse standout project.

The 15-track album from Born Again Records has several distinct flavors, ranging from traditional to dance to urban contemporary. In each effort, Grear & Co. showcase awesome vocal arrangements as well as compelling lyrics.

One of the notable tracks on the project is titled “Bet My Life”. This song speaks of God’s unique ability to show up whenever His people need Him. This funky track has an infectious hook that will make your head nod and your heart rejoice.

The “jam” of this album is easily “We’re Coming Up”. This song switches beats mid-stream from an urban funk-fest to a dance track that will definitely keep you moving.

And you can add “Power” to the list of song successes, as this traditional cut with outstanding vocal arrangements will easily get you pumped for church on Sunday or worship throughout the week.

While the group counts the distinctively-voiced Jameica Nesby (daughter of renowned former Sounds of Blackness lead vocalist, Anne Nesby) as one of its members, the talentJames Grear certainly doesn’t stop there. Both as a group and in solo capacity, all members’ pipes offer up solid and enjoyable earfood.

The diversity in this project is found not only within the musical content but in the lyrics also. Addressing a variety of issues, Grear & Co. explore different subject matters in an effort to take things to the next level.

“Believe In Yourself” is a song promoting self-motivation and encourages the listener to focus on a goal and believe in his or herself to reach their desire. “What Kind of Friend Are You” addresses friendship and suggests the importance of loyalty and commitment within a relationship. “From This Moment On” deals with relationships and how a person vows to be committed from this stage of life.

Grear and his 7-voice ensemble have made a definite mark with this new project. The musical experience that the project embarks upon assures us that James Grear & Co. have indeed moved to “the next level”.

Producers: Baby D, Akello, LA, Denver Wright
album release date: March, 2000
Born Again Records

— reviewed by Gerard Bonner

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