New Direction
Get Your Praise On

Get Your Praise On CDBrothers Percy and Jeral Gray veered off into uncharted territory back in 1998 with the self-titled debut of their new Chicago choir creation, New Direction (see review of debut project).

Known for their youthful daring and Gospel verve, their enthusiasm spreads like a contagion, bringing all in earshot out of their seats in dance. And they’re known for having one of the tightest bands in the country bring it on. Titled Get Your Praise On, this sophomore project offers all that was evident in their debut, plus a little something extra.

The CD explodes with back to back blowout band jams. “I Came To Jesus” ranks with as high a hot factor as you’ll find in Gospel this year. Shawn Hodo takes the solo reigns with passion, running the time honored —but paraphrased to current lingo—lyrics through his lightly rasped cords. One of Gospel’s heralded horn outfits (Vinnie Ciesielski Roy Agee, Jim Horn, Steve Patrick, Doug Moffett) brings brassy fire into the mix, adding oomph and heat to an already powerfully hot sound.

The album’s second cut is “New Revelation”, which again generates open mouthed admiration for the instrumentals masters that inhabit the band. It blazes.

Where this project diverges from the first is in the inclusion of several quality church cuts. Not that the other songs aren’t for church folk, but there are some gems here that make you visualize the pews, the robes, Get Your Praise On CD the deacons and the mothers. Prime among these is “Come On In The House”, an invitational slow ride of organ, piano and drums that showcases the gifting of Shanta Gray along with some nice slowly punctuated choir vocals.

“Glory, Glory” is another, putting the never-tired ‘burdens down’ lyric to a mid-tempo movement. And again with those horns! This song is preceded with an introductory, semi-interlude type of track (“Grandma’s Glory”) which goes waaaay back to the original version of this classic (grandma drama vocals included!). There’s so much nice ol'-style singing on this interlude that it’s a probably a misnomer to call it an interlude.

“Hold Out” is a slowly building and powerful number, narrated with prophetic class by Vincent Gray: "Hold out, the Son is going to shine". Relying on drawn out harmonies and soft phrasing, the song moves into louder and triumphant victory with New Direction emptying their all into the exhortation.

What else? Well there’s one of those club/dance cuts that got attention last time out. Whereas "Lighthouse” was the joint on the first project, “Victory” takes that spot on this one. Emoni Wilkens takes her time with considerable jazz flair on the beautifully rendered “What Manner of Man”, and the slow closing cut “’Til We Meet” makes for a pleasing end to the album.

With the Gray brothers responsible for songwriting throughout most of the project, along with an occasional nod to Gregory Booth, Get Your Praise On gives you consistency. If you liked the first, you’ll love the second!

Get Your Praise On CD

Producers: Percy and Jeral Gray, Kern Brantley
album release date: October 3, 2000
Myrrh Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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