John Tillery and Living Sacrifice
Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

The DC-based 12-member choir gets top marks for Romans 12:1. on the JackieBoy Entertainment label. Taking their name from the verse in Romans that they also use to title their most recent project, John Tillery and Living Sacrifice bring their choir-based urban praise into sharp focus.

Romans 12:1 CDTillery handles several of the leads on the 12-track project, his Gospel pipes bringing a pleasing vibe to the table. But there’s a strong cast of others who also make the mark.

And you’ll be the sorry one if you let the small label disguise fool you into thinking there’s no urban prize. Tillery not only delivers a hefty dose of street vibe on cuts such as “Get On Up” and “Holy Ghost Party” (with the help of Voices II Voices), he also has a knack for writing sweet grooves.

On that tip, “Never Gonna Give Up” takes the biggest bow, instantly catching the ear with its softly insistent vocal hook. “Make A Joyful Noise” is another winner, with just the right blend of choir and solo lead (from Lashawn Tillery) to gel the composition into memory lock.

“For You’ve Done Great Things” is a two-part song written by another local favorite, Sam Kendricks (see album review). With a kick-back tempo and sustained choir parts, the approachable song structure invites you to sing in solidarity with their praise, even after the first minute.

In fact, the unspoken but easy invitation to join your praise with Living Sacrifice is the hallmark of this understated project. Any composer will tell you that this is not an easy thing to do. The fact that is does speaks to the quality of songwriting on the album.

Producer: John Tillery, Isaiah Thomas, Antone' Caldwell
album release date: early 2000
EMI Gospel

— reviewed by Stan North

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