More Than A Feeling
As the next artist to emerge from Detroit’s Inner Court Music Group after
Darius Twyman and Destiny, the sextet His Image alternates between
cuts of smooth group vocals and cuts of ‘contemporary old school’ rhythm
and drives on their debut, More Than A Feeling. Producers: Ken Reynolds, Kenneth Mathies, Gregory Pearson
album release date: March, 2000
It’s on those easy grooves that the group really impresses.
When they let their vocals come to the fore, their deft blend of vocal
textures make for an intriguing
and ear-soothing concoction that goes
smoothly down the canal. His Image is strong as a unit and in solo capacity.
The group’s interpretation of “Lily In The Valley” is a welcome one,
bringing the acappella classic back into the limelight. While many will
reflect on John P. Kee’s version upon hearing this one, His Image succeeds
in cloaking it with their own signature sound.
The stand-alone voices of Gerald Perry and Kelvin Dukes are particulary evident
on jams like ‘Take Up Your Cross’, which progressively builds to a vibrant
finish. Melodic and lyrical elements of the hymn, “At The Cross (where I
first saw the light)” are integrated by song’s end.
On “The Things You Do”, Kelvin Dukes' soaringingly-smooth falshetto
capturing the essence of the heaven-bound praise, with minimal keyboard
effects emphasizing the ethereal quality of the vibe. Another quality
cut on the slow tip is “Second Chance”.
While the group doesn’t draw too much attention to the fact that one of
their members (Henry Sapp) is the brother of the famous Marvin (interview), it is
the basis of one of the cool things you can do with this CD. Put on
those earphones and see how quick your ear is to pick out that Sapp
family voice. You can find the younger brother taking co-vocals on
“Direction” and “I’ve Come Too Far”, for example.
And with that faint Commissioned connection established, comes a much stronger
one. Much of the faster-paced material on the project evoke memories of
earlier Commissioned albums (such as Number 7), with regards to the
instrumental tracks and overall feel.
Heavy synth tracks with prominent rhythm loops and electric guitar
prominence make frequent appearances (“Direction”, “Make A Way”).
Some Earth Wind and Fire influence can also be detected, especially
on backing vocal arrangements (“I’ve Come Too Far”).
No doubt, there will be a few critics who will declare these sounds
to be passé. But while they certainly can’t be mistaken for the current
Darkchild-esque rage in urban Gospel, there’s no arguing their
distinctiveness. You could consider this a beacon of ‘back in the
day’ comfort in today’s musical landscape that has become a
frozen vista of sameness of beat. (Having said that, some of the
occasional brief raps inserted into some cuts tend to distract more than impact, and
wouldn’t be missed if they were absent.)
In total, More Than A Feeling presents newcomers His Image
by offering up a mix of smooth and old-school bounce in a
satisfying combo that deserves a listen.
Inner Court Music
reviewed by Stan North —
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