Here II Praise
Giving You Nothing But Praise

Boston is rarely mentioned in the same breath as gospel hotbeds such as New York, Detroit or Chicago.

However, with the sudden burst of Boston-based Here II Praise on the national recording scene, that may soon change. This album is strongly supported by Daryl Coley and his Integra production team. In fact, Coley steps in and takes lead vocals on one of the finest cuts of the project, a jazzy, reworked "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah".

However, it is with young newcomer Robbie Lewis at the controls of both production, much of the song-writing, and choir direction that catapults the 20-odd members of Here II Praise into uncharted urban jazz territory.

Some will hear elements of Ben Tankard here; others will hear a definite James Hall influence. However, the fact is that the sounds coming from this disc are unique in gospel music. On the one hand, there are the jazzily produced, vocoder-heavy contemporary cuts such as "You Don't Have to Be Afraid" and "I'm So Glad".

On the other hand, there are the classical-edged songs that blend a Richard Smallwood sound with jazz harmonies. The title track and "O Give Thanks" fall into this latter category.

Although some songs work much better than others ("Show Me The Way" is a stunning jazz groove, while "The Chicken Song" still has me puzzled), this is certainly an album that those desiring to hear the cutting edge of contemporary, perhaps even avant-garde gospel music.

Producer: Robbie Lewis
Integra / Verity

reviewed by Stan North

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