Liz McComb

Don’t be confused. While this may be your first time hearing, or even hearing of Liz McComb, it’s more than a stretch to call her a new artist.

Liz McComb CDMcComb has been singing Gospel for decades, first in ensembles before her Ohio home crowds, then to larger audiences. She then migrated to jazz and blues and also set up home in Europe, where after some time with the quartet Psalms, as a solo artist she consistently packed halls and drew thousands to festivals.

But Liz McComb has recently returned ‘home’ to Gospel, with her self-titled project (subtitled "Fire") being her first home-soil release (on Crystal Rose Records' imprint, Yellow Rose). Yet it’s only one of several solo project this artist has in her discography, the others being distributed overseas. With this project available in both VHS video and DVD as well, it seems that someone’s sure serious about getting her know over here.

The album is fiery potpourri of McComb’s intense vocals, supported by the Gospel basics: piano, drums and bass. Some of the repertoire may be familiar (“Jesus Is A Rock”, “You Can’t Hurry God”, “Stand By Me”), but with her mezzo vocals taking every phrase and fashioning it into a work of art, there’s a fresh perspective to be heard from beginning to end.

Songs such as the album’s centrepiece titled “Fire” (one of eight compositions written by McComb, showcase her mastery of her gift. Starting with a reflective wander of vocals and moving to improvised Liz McCombscatting, to full throttle, hail-down Gospel singing by the end of the eleven-minute live-recorded work, McComb shows an ability to soak her sounds with intense, soul-searing delivery.

Every nuance, every syllable, every turn of phrase flickers with intense color, with McComb easily moving from warmth to cool as piano, organ, rhythms and backing vocals move in solidarity underneath.

Other shining cuts are “Whenever You Pray”, “Give Him Up” and “Time Is Now” which are further episodes of Gospel soul where McComb obviously finds inspiration from real life situations.

But it truly doesn’t stop there, the entire project is a gem. Call it a throwback to the days when Gospel was not acquainted with the synthesizer, and the rhythm track was only for techno. This is a vocal triumph of all that continues to be best about Gospel music.

No doubt, Gospel is home for Liz McComb.

Producer: Liz McComb, Gérard Vacher
album release date: June, 2001
Yellow Rose

— reviewed by Stan North

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