Mary Mary

As one of the most prominent Gospel artists to enter the scene over the past few decades —both with respect to sales figures across the board for their multi-award winning Thankful album and with respect to the impact of their hit song “Shackles”— all ears are eager for Mary Mary’s follow up project Incredible, on Integrity Gospel / Columbia Records.

CD Working again with producer Warryn Campbell (who produced the duo’s debut), but also collaborating with others such as Mike City and Rodney Jerkins, Mary Mary have wisely fashioned together a sophomore project that is not so much Thankful Part II, but rather gives us a slightly different perspective on the duo we’ve quickly grown to love.

Thematically, Incredible more frequently puts the focus on horizontal relationships, offering encouragment and inspiration to others, dropping phat-beat-wrapped pieces of scripture-inspired wisdom to all who will hear.

The project begins with the supremely infectious title track which tells of God’s incredible love of which we are so undeserving. No sooner does the song end than it’s picked up by “God Bless”. Equally hype, the song commands a turn up of volume as Mary Mary deliver their trademark harmonies and patterned turns at lead mic as they honor a friend who has gone through the valley to emerge victorious in God.

In fact, the first half of Incredible is very much like an expertly assembled mix tape, with serious energetic urban bounce injected into each of the songs. No sooner does one end than another bangs ahead with head-nod tracks from Campbell and soaring vocals from Mary Mary.

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Rodney Jerkins puts his pen and Darkchild production spice to “He Said”, a song where Mary Mary sing of the reality of God’s promises. Jerkins tag-teams with Fats on a mid-cut testimonial rap segment on this joyous rouser. “In The Morning” is an encourager and the album’s lead single, with swelling strings from Benjamin Wright energized by Warryn Campbells’ instrumental prowess. Here Mary Mary sing out that ‘the sun will shine again’.

Midway through the 17-track album (no interludes, just music!), there’s a shift towards more mid-tempo balladry. The project flowers into a veritable garden of strings and guitar-laden pieces that showcase the sisters songwriting and ability to fashion ministry into soulful musical escapades.

One songs that instantly stands out is “This Love”, featuring Fred Hammond. Mary Mary’s melody drives are enhanced by Hammond’s frequent woven backing vocals, as they describe God’s ultimate love for us, which transcends every other sort that we could ever experience.

The duo also tackle Stevie Wonder’s oft-covered ballad, “You Will Know”, with John “Jubu” Smith joining Campbell on the lush production feel of the cut. Other notables are the melodic “Trouble Ain’t” and a beautiful ode to Godly self-esteem addressed to a younger child, titled “Little Girl”. Kayla Parker contributes with backing vocals on this one.

CD Just like they did with James Cleveland’s “Can’t Give Up Now” on their debut, Mary Mary bring tribute to Gospel legend Walter Hawkins by not only re-working his mega-hit “Thank You” (with live instrumentation from Andrew Gouche, Jason White, Derrick Walker, Teddy Campbell and others), but also by incorporating a lengthy sample of the original from Love Alive IV, complete with original cameo from the late Rev. James Moore.

In a wonderful marketing coup, Incredible ends with a bonus cut only available on those CDs purchased through Christian retailers. “I Luv 'Em” has Mary Mary singing God’s praises and His with fast-paced smooth singing and a snappy track.

The word on Incredible has to be ‘hook’. The album is both off the hook and crammed hooks of the vocal and instrumental variety.

Producers: W. Campbell, R. Jerkins, M. City, A. Gouche, J. Smith
album release date: July 16, 2002
Integrity Gospel / Columbia Records

— reviewed by Stan North

  All content in GospelFlava copyright 2002. No information to be reprinted or re-broadcast from this site without the expressed written consent of GospelFlava.com. All rights reserved.

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