Lamar Campbell and Spirit of Praise

Lamar Cambpell and Spirit of Praise
When I Think About You

This review is a little different, as GospelFlava.com asked Lamar Campbell to comment on specific aspects of his new record.

With his last two projects, Campbell satisfied the appetite of those looking for choir-based contemporary praise. That doesn't change with When I Think About You.

This time around the Motor City production and songwriting flair of Fred Hammond and PAJAM are featured, along with veteran Sanchez Harley who comes back for the live tracks. All this makes for an overall slightly edgier sound.

Lamar Campbell and Spirit of Praise CDCampbell notes that "this is the first time I've ever worked with Fred Hammond. I have been a long time admirer of his artistry and his integrity, and I love the message in his music. I felt that our styles were similar enough that they would really compliment each other on this record. I appreciated working with him because there was a sense that he appreciated my artistry. Even when he gave me guidelines of how the songs should go, he gave me creative freedom to make them feel more like us."

Hammond collaborates (production, songwriting) on two cuts: the title track, and "Use Me". Stepping in to work lead guitar and bass, he also brings along his stellar crew of Marvin McQuitty and Tommy Walker. With live horns blaring on both tracks, Campbell's earnest vocals on top make for some real funky business.

As for PAJAM, you can't really miss them. No need to peer into credits here, for "Can't Nobody Tell It" is a J.Moss thing all the way, Moss offering up his instantly recognizable vocal flow off the top. "Fresh" is how Cambpell describes the PAJAM feel:

"I really believe they have a street vibe...they brought something fresh and new to this album. It was a little weird because we didn't know each other before working on this project, but once we got into the studio there was this awesome chemistry that you will hopefully feel when you hear the tune. He comes to the studio with a specific vibe in mind, especially when he is the writer of the song, and he doesn't stop until he gets things exactly where he wants them. Praise God we were able to give him what he needed to hear!"

Lamar CampbellAnother disk highlight is Denise Clark's lead on "Closer", where her soaring soul is evident from first to last note of the slow burn praise. Campbell wrote the piece:

"That song was written in Nashville at the writers' suite at the EMI building (my favorite writing place). Mostly I write under pressure. There are unique times when God gives me songs just out of nowhere, at the weirdest times, but those have been some of the best and most powerful songs that I've written."

"And Denise Clark, Lord have mercy! First of all, she's anointed to sing. The songs that she was given on this project and our last two albums ('He Won't Let You Down' and 'I Don't Care What It Looks Like') were songs that she could really witness to. 'Closer' has really become a part of her life. That allows her to convey to the audience how real the song is and convict them to want to feel what she feels when she's singing. She's has a unique ability to connect with an audience in that way."

With Sanchez Harley producing all of the live music on the project, you pick up much of the same Spirit of Praise vibe that so captivated on Campbell's first two EMI Gospel projects. "Raise The Roof" is a classic Gospel barnburner.

"Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" is classic for a different reason. The choir delivers elements of the classical choir sound that the J.S. Bach standard demands, but also imparts contemporary vibes to Michael Robinson's spirited arrangement of the song. It's one of the most memorable tracks on the disk.

There's enough of the familiar on When I Think About You to comfort the fan, and yet with so many 'nouveau' elements incorporated as well, the album maintains a fresh face.

Lamar Campbell and Spirit of 
Praise CD

Look for new songs from Lamar Campbell on a variety of upcoming projects, including: Rodney Bryant's upcoming project ("We Praise You and Lift You High"), The GMWA Women of Worship nel album recorded in New Orleans in 2000 ("Lord You Are the Author of My Praise"), and songs on the new T.D. Jakes record from EMI Gospel set to release spring of 2001.

Producer: Sanchez Harley, PAJAM, Fred Hammond
album release date: October 24, 2000
EMI Gospel

reviewed by Stan North

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