And That's The Way It Is

Alexis Nucklos, aka Lexi, re-joins the Gospel circuit in a smash of an album strong on beat drives, personally-inspired lyrics and a hip-hop edge.

It's been a very long time between her 1990 Lection Records debut Call Her Lexi Lexi...And That's The Way It Is CDand this sophomore release from Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Records. The decade in between has seen her collaborate with Fred Hammond, Dawkins & Dawkins, Kim Rutherford, and also includes a three-year stint as a background singer for Gerald Levert.

The most familiar cut on And That's The Way It Is might be "I'm A Winner", since Evander Holyfield put it into our ears during his late-nineties boxing match-up with Lennox Lewis. It's an instrumental-sample-filled jam with a hook-laced chorus and a guest rap from Angela Smith. The shorter Michael Allen remix of the cut is a sure-fire winner as well, with the inclusion of Allen's Becton-esque ad libs throughout.

Look for a fascinating mid-eastern, other-world vibe on the upbeat "Praise Jesus". It's unique and it's a successful experiment, although you truly don't quite know where it will go at first. "That's How I Know", with its heavy groove is another cut worthy of mention.

With a voice that God made for this very urban style, but with a vocal quality that defies comparison, Lexi continues to carve her niche on this project with selections such as "It Ain't Over" and "Closer". Softer cuts both, they take the listener beyond beat intensity and move into smooth groove melodicism that emphasizes the worshipful words. Backup singers Eric L. Coates and Pam English more than satisfy with consistently soulful vocals.

As a former English teacher, Lexi uses the real-life situations she encountered daily with her students to present some lyrically-fresh takes on issues relevant to youthful pursuits andLexi temptations. An example is "Conversations (Hold On)", which takes on the form of a duet between Lexi and a student, with Lexi offering straight up, biblically sound advice regarding the temptations of pre-marital sex. Gwen Spencer as the student works a wonderful vocal into the duet mix.

Rising producers and songwriters Michael Allen and Gary Crawford demonstrate a sure-fire streetsound awareness, spinning a world of sound throughout the CD that marches toe to toe with the highest quality of urban beats available elsewhere. On the quieter cuts, they show that they can take it down a notch just as effectively. For this team show up on another CD project soon would be no surprise.

As more and more artists from the recent past take their place again at the Gospel music table, it's good to hear voices that you had presumed were confined to a previous time. The voice on this project is one of those, and it's good to know that you can still call her Lexi.

Producers: Gary Crawford, Michael Allen
album re-release date: June, 2001
Real Deal Records

reviewed by Stan North

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