Russell Delegation
What Would Russell Do?

While itís been several years since their well-received Wait On The Lord debut on AIR Gospel in 1997. Rooted in Wilmington, Delaware and based out of Simpson U.M. Church, Russell Delegation has kept busy and active with their bread and butter —concert ministry.

What Would Russell Do? CDItís that ministry and live concert vibe that get combined on their sophomore project, the wryly titled What Would Russell Do?, on their new label home, Nu Beginning Muzica, making for a good audio capture for anyone whoís ever experienced the choir live.

Mixing contemporary influence into their traditional foundation, Russell starts the project starts off on the right foot with a modulation-festival titled "O Give Thanks" before slipping into a nicely jammed, slow "To Be Praised" from Antone Caldwellís pen. Both these cuts find the memory spot quickly, as do most of the songs on this project.

Returning collaborators from Wait On the Lord bring back their flava, from Kevin Pringleís "Donít Worry" to Danny Easonís encouraging "Donít Give Up" to Tyrone Tribbettís "I Wonít Complain". As the song titles indicate, the lyrical focus through much of the album is directed to building up the Body of Christ. Stemming directly from their concert ministry which frequently brings home encouragement to the congregation, the message also reflects the albumís title, for encouragement like this is "what Russell would do", and does.

Musical director Oshay Lolley continues to show his promise both in the grabbing musical innovation that marks the project, and with his compositional skills. His island flow "Reign" (with Curtis Burgess on lead), the remix "Gonna Stay Right Here" (from the choirís debut title track) and "Iíll Walk With Christ" each show strength.

Lecresia Campbell singing at the live recording with Russell DelegationAn added bonus is the guest vocals of Lecresia Campbell on "I Want To Be Holy". True to form, she turns the song inside out with her trademarked runs and piercing vocals. Campbell takes the slow turns of the song and delivers them into phrasing perfection with lines such as "make my body a living sacrifice". Meandering keys and organ detours along with Russellís clear diction on chorus makes the song a highlight.

The minor quibbles that present themselves on this album (some rough edges on production and some track listing discrepancies) are easily overlooked, owing to the overall ministry and musical innovation that the choir delivers.

So, what would Russell do? Give you a set of new set of straight-up gospel with a millenial face, thatís what. Call their sophomore project a success.

Producers: O. Lolley, H. Kennedy, 'M'. Waller, T. Jones, B. Boyd
album release date: February 27, 2001
Nu Beginnings Muzica

ó reviewed by Stan North ó

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