Montrel Darrett
Chronicles of the Soul

Montrel Darrett’s debut solo release is many things. It is, in his words, “raw” and “in your face”; and in my words, laid all out there on the table. Chronicles of the Soul, with most songs penned by Darrett, goes into areas that much of Gospel, even contemporary, dares not touch. Darrett not only chooses to bring up some touchy issues, but willfully has head-on collisions with racism, fornication and other areas of sometimes-secret sin.

The musical composition on thisChronicles of the Soul album is retrospective. Very seventies soul. Real seventies soul - not a watered down imitation - melded with straight up hip-hop. All tracks display strong instrumentation, built around a heavy guitar presence, reminiscent of some Ohio Players (gasp!) from the days of old. “Shakedown” is a great example of Darrett’s new classic styling. Vintage guitar, far-from boring bassline, and steady percussion over lyrics like, “Talking about, ‘What would Jesus do, if He was in my shoes? Waiting for the lights to go out, about to make your move’" and "Women on the left and uh, women on the right and uh, preaching on Sunday night, when you know you ain’t right."

“I’m Sorry” is a heavily R&B laced love song to the Lord, apologizing for how we continually fall short of spending time with Him. Darrett’s vocal range and craft are skillfully displayed on all tracks, but particularly shine here. Somewhat of a vocal chameleon, he is always exceptional and leaves his unmistakable mark on each track.

Chronicles of the Soul is an overwhelming initial presentation for Darrett, that is sure to heat up the already (three months into the year!) crowded list of Best New Artist candidates. This project is not for the faint-hearted, but for the listener who is not afraid of the real. Musically and lyrically I think it’s clear that Darrett isn’t out to make you comfortable or to make you like him, but somehow I know you will.

Producer: Montrel Darrett
EMI Gospel

— reviewed by Melanie Clark —

Check out the interview with Montrel Darrett.

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