Maurette Brown Clark
By His Grace
Strength can often be found in peaceful certainty.Producers: Steven Ford, Kevin Bond, Maurette Brown Clark, Isaac Phillips
album release date: September, 2002
Such is the case with Maurette Brown Clark. The NY-raised artist garnered a Stellar award for her 1998 solo debut (see album review), and won bands of admirers for her vocal approach which combines the seemingly contradictory qualities of power and tranquility.
On By His Grace, her debut on AIR Gospel, that continues.
Producers Kevin Bond and Steven Ford surround Brown Clark's singular vocals with loads of lush orchestration, frequent strings and layers of gentle urban sounds, while Brown Clark writes much of the material herself.
There are several interesting points about the album. One of them certainly centers around the song "Lean on You". Here, Brown Clark joins with Dottie Jones, one of the original members of The Richard Smallwood Singers. (The connection is clear, as Brown Clark is a member of Smallwood's choir Vision). The two work well together, their voices blending with buoyant choir swelling behind, with Jonathan Dubose Jr. on guitar lending his touch.
Another highlight is "King of Kings", which features a simple but compelling melody that is straight praise, something that Brown Clark does extremely well.
"Calvary" is in much the same vein, but set to solo piano (played by Brown Clark) and produced by her as well.
"One Prayer Away" is reflective piece written by Brown Clark that tells of the closeness of God to us in all situations, and inspired by the events of Sept 11, 2001. Her young children Jada and Jaylen join her toward the close of this meditative song.
"Even In the Rain" sees DC's Brandon Broadnax coming in to co-write with Brown Clark. The song is written in the voice of God, comforting us in difficult times: "Believe me when I say, I am working, even in the rain". Brown Clark works the melody's light hook over the vocal chorus, with Bond setting the package into a looping rhythm track, light guitar and soft piano.
More urban selections include a good remake of The Winans' "Restoration". This version comes courtesy Steven Ford, with a stompy rhythm, horns and resonant chorus. Isaac "Sipho?" Phillips produces "You're My Everything", another lightly-funked urban cut with occasional vocoder poking in.
In total, By His Grace is a beautiful album that cements Maurette Brown Clark's place in Gospel.
reviewed by Stan North —
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