Alive in South Africa
God has used Israel and New Breed to break barriers in so many areas, raising the bar in praise and worship, and encouraging all like-minded hearts to follow suit. People have responded, and are now singing their songs around the world, so what would be more appropriate than to record their next record, live, in South Africa in Cape Town, to be precise!
Alive in South Africa, from Integrity Gospel, is quite simply an amazing outfit with songs of praise and worship that are bound to reach those in all areas of the Gospel community, while gaining an even greater audience for Israel and New Breed. The 2-disc project comes packaged with stunning holographic cover art.
Things get jumping with an authentic African drum solo, which smoothly flows into the "Alive Overture" and then the funky "Alive". Producer and keys specialist Aaron Lindsey joins best friend Israel on lead on "Favor of the Lord", a cut which has the sort of sound and energy perfectly suitable for worship teams and choirs alike.
Israel has a knack for his great interaction with audiences or congregation, and this is evident on "Turn It Around". He re-teaches the assembly the chorus, a cappella, while stumbling over the notes. It is classic Israel.
"Not Forgotten", the albumís lead single, is the acoustic guitar tinged jam that is taking radio by storm with its pop flavor and lyrics that anyone can identify with. This is a song that deserves the multiple play itís getting. In the reprise, Israel reminds everyone that we are "in the greatest time in history". Jamil Whiting sings the slow version of the song, which flows into a nice cover of Tommie Walker's "He Knows My Name".
New Breed show their tremendous vocal skills on the Gospel-tinged "Surely". Crooner Daniel Johnson smoothly sings a verse and Barry Strong adds his organ prowess.
The worship continues on Disc 2, where Israel showcases his greatest work. "You've Been A Friend" is a continuation of the many songs that the group sings about the incredible friendship that God offers us as a consequence of the atoning sacrifice of his Son. Stacey Joseph sings with passion and helps to kick this song into high gear.
"I Will" gets a reworking on this recording, it re-appearing as a swinging praise song that brings to mind that Radical for Christ vibe. Danielle Stephens and Israel trade ad libs over brassy horns and Mike Clemons' dope drum work.
"To Worship You I Live (Away)" is a simple, but powerful song where Israel sings of his desire to worship God with reckless abandon. New Breed then flow straight into a medley of familiar worship songs which gives way to the most powerful song on the album, "Alpha and Omega". The power here is not in any great vocal arrangements or fancy musicianship. Rather, itís just one of those pieces that gives us a glimpse of how it will be in heaven when we are singing in one accord to our God. As Israel is overcome by the presence of God, Aaron Lindsey takes over the lead.
Africa is again represented by singing sensation Jonathan Butler. The Cape Town native brings his pen, his signature runs and his guitar work to the jumping, "Come and Let Us Sing". The packed audience demonstrates enthusiasm as Butler encourages people to sing and dance before the Lord, making the cut a great contribution to an already amazing album.
Israel then runs through a medley of some his popular songs such as "New Season", "Again I Say Rejoice" and "Friend of God" to complete an unforgettable night or praise and worship at the tip of the continent. Throw in the studio version of "Not Forgotten" and "He Knows My Name" and the album is complete.
Alive in South Africa is by far one of the best albums of 2005, and yes, thatís quite a statement, considering the strength of this yearís crop.
Can it get any better for Israel and New Breed? That same question was asked many times after Live from Another Level. So let's just say, more souls will be won and we wouldnít be surprised to see a platinum plaque soon hanging in the New Breed office.
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— reviewed by Dwayne Lacy —
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