Heart & Soul: Nexus
Perhaps one of the unsung heroes of the urban contemporary era is Parkes Stewart.
Stewart played a major role in the development of the sound that defined such legendary groups as Commissioned and Witness. Long known for his fantastic writing ability and close knit harmonies, Stewart is back on the scene with his third solo project, and his first in five years.
The new project, titled Heart and Soul (Nexus), is his debut on Comin' Atcha Music and introduces the listener to Stewart in his totality. The focus of this project is unlike most Gospel sets, in that Stewart spends time delivering songs that focus on man's vertical relationship with God while aptly balancing the horizontal relationships amongst humanity.
From the leadoff cut, it's easy to tell that Stewart has that soul crooner's approach. Building off of the smooth and warming vocal stylings of vocalists such as Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, Stewart brings a soulful sound back to the game that's been missing for quite some time. As in previous projects, he joins up with numerous pals for production and songwriting collaboration (Eric Bryce, Charles Harris, Daryl Dixon and others).
With that same passion, Stewart unashamedly calls for God's help for our world, as evidenced on the passion-filled "Help Us". The leadoff cut, "My Soul", also is an impassioned plea from Stewart for God's help in our present situation. During this song, Stewart relates to Gaye's "What's Goin' On" as well as to Stevie Wonder. He even reaches out a metaphorical 'helping hand' to R. Kelly, showing the continued cultural relevance of Stewart's message that all are in need of God's help.
A hallmark of this project is Stewart's approach to delivering his message. He identifies the societal issues facing our world and then subtlely yet effectively offers Christ as the solution.
Interview with Parkes Stewart
"I'm a songwriter. I let other people put a title on my music. They call it neo soul nowadays, but in the old days they just called it soul music. I'm just a soul singer. The Bible says we overcome by the word of our testimony. I just put into song the spirit of love..."|
Check the full interview with Parkes Stewart.
"This Is My Story" is a take on the traditional hymn of the same name. The ballad highlights Stewart's vocals and has him gladly telling the world of His love for Christ. "Trust Him" admonishes listeners to trust God with any issue or adversity and look for Him to bring resolution.
While Stewart does infuse Christ within his overall message, there are a number of songs that deal with life issues such as romance, friendships, and love, and the listener should be prepared for that. With a receptive ear, you'll hear reality addressed through a spiritual perspective that will be relevant to all who listen.
"Radio/Video" speaks of a man who listens to a song or sees a video that reminds him of his love that is no longer by his side. The song can quickly become an anthem for those who have lost loves or are still holding out hope for their lost love to return. The boldness to address such an issue makes this song worth a few spins, to say the least.
"Brown Eyes" speaks of a man expressing his genuine love to a woman. It's a romantic song that has the man laying down his best game to win the affections of "Brown Eyes". Again, it's not for the weak at heart and Stewart holds nothing back. Like the Song of Songs, it can serve as a tutorial of how to win the affections of your beloved.
Other tracks like "Personality", "Just a Song for You", and "Comfort & Peace" cement the fact that Stewart is willing to step out there and deliver songs that speak candidly about love and romance.
Without question, the quality of the tracks and lyrical potency of each of these songs rivals anything from Carl Thomas, Mario Winans or even Luther Vandross in the arena of quality love songs. These songs can easily be used to spice up a marriage or renew fire and passion in a love-filled relationship.
With such gifted musicians as Aaron Lindsey, Marcus Abernathy, Charles Harris, Daryl Dixon and Joe Otis contributing to the project, it's definitely one to give a serious look to. In addition, Stewart co-writes every song on this project and one listen shows that these songs clearly come from his heart and soul.
There's healing, reality, and genuine passion found deep within the annals of this project. Open your heart and soul to a familiar yet effective sound. It's the sound and message of Parkes Stewart, slickly packaged into sixty-two minutes of joy, pain, love, and fulfillment that introduces the world to his Heart and Soul.
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album release date: 2004
Comin' Atcha Music
review by Gerard Bonner —
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