The project starts off with the urban.
"Act Like You Know", is a Rodney Jerkins ‘first song out’. It’s got enough torque to make you marvel that it doesn’t send the subsequent song material skittling in all directions. Mr. Darkchild himself comes with an in-yo-face explanation for the naysayers about his cross-genre production resume: "It's more to this than making a dollar, If God says stop then I wouldn't even bother. Cause I'm a witness to what God can do, He took the wealth from the wicked and gave it to my crew". Shawn Daniels works it out on lead.
"Calvary" is a virtual scatfest with Natalie Wilson and Andrea Latrelle Simmons out front. Natalie and husband Joe ‘Flip’ Wilson write and produce this one. The many vamps on this one will not leave you hungry for more.
But as much as the urban choir jams and intense street vibes impress, it’s the unexpected versatility that Wilson and SOP demonstrates on the sweet ballad serenades on Girl Director that really sit you down and make you give up props.
The prime example is the big band kind of ‘slow down’ on "I Found Someone". Tina Marshall’s vocals smoothly guide the song through. Heavy orchestration by the renowned Jeremy Lubbock that builds to a broadway style closure that is wildly reminiscent of Jennifer Holliday's Dreamgirl performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going".
Then there’s the pastoral "Only Time Will Tell", with strings again by Lubbock. The song starts out with the choir in unison, framed by acoustic guitar from Melvin Smith. The song ponders, in a rather subtle context, the eventuality of every knee bowing before Jesus Christ.
"Brother, Sister" is a Lauryn Hill flava’d mid-tempo choir groove which SOP sinks into a phat, acoustic-vibed melodic pocket, with lyrics that bring home the importance of brotherly love and accountability. And Faith Evans shows up on "Crown".
Another significance to this record is the emergence of J. Michael Anderson as soloist. Appearing with Wilson on “Show Me”, he shows promise, but it’s on “Let’s Talk About Jesus” where he truly takes us to school. It’s a sizzle-fest all the way, as Anderson simply tears the song to pieces. Range, tone, phrasing, inventive stylings, to say he’s got it all is ridiculous understatement, as he spells out in song who Jesus is to him, and to us.
"The Hills" will bring to mind the thorough vocal delivery and diligence of James Hall, and “The Rock” playfully brings a ‘rock’ vibe guitar distortion and all into the mix.
By album’s end, you simply shake your head, because you can’t take it any more. And then you press ‘repeat’. Again.
— reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North —
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