Shirley Murdock warms up the spot with her debut solo Gospel projecton, on Dexterity Sounds (see artist website).Producers: Dale DeGroat, Kirk Franklin, Sanchez Harley
album release date: February 26, 2002
Titled Home, and no doubt reflecting her sincere move to Gospel, Murdock continues to reinvent herself, creating sparks with her ever-youthful voice in the process.
Dexterity pulls out a crew of Gospel’s well known producers to provide a support for Murdock’s powerhouse voice. From Kevin Bond to Derek "DOA" Allen to producer-husband Dale DeGroat, they provide the infrastructure that keeps her from blowing the house down.
“We Need A Word from the Lord”, penned by the late and awesome Thomas Whitfield, is spoken Murdock’s way. Sanchez Harley produces and respectfully keeps the gloss off of a song that holds it’s own without too much. Harley does a beautiful job of sweetening the arrangement without compromising its simplicity.
Cedric Thompson kicks in “Thy Way” and a Rhythm & Praise flava’d groove with wife and EMI Gospel artist LeJuene Thompson (see album review) lending a hand on background vocals.
Bond offers the compelling “Never Let You Down” as he partners in writing with song specialist and EMI Gospel new artist Smokie Norful. Murdock’s testimonial verse alone is powerful enough, but the rich chorus that sweeps progressively across the ballad builds to perfection. Bass man Darrell Freeman delights with some inventive but not overbearing bass work in the backdrop.
Degroat, who has worked with everyone from Eric Benet to Curtis Mayfield joins with wife Murdock on “It’s in Your Hands”. He also joins in “The Dream That Would Not Die”, a Gospel inspirational ballad that features the Lloyd Barry-arranged Nashville String Machine. Also notable are guitar by Carlos Pennell and drums by Lester Troutman.
The groove factor throughout this project is skyhigh it’s a style that fits Murdock perfectly. “This Is That”, is simply head nod-defying, as the song tells of Joel’s prophecy of modern-day Pentecost, with talkbox effects thrown in. The remix, with its George Clinton “Aqua Boogie” sample, is straight off the funk meter.
Murdock showcases her great voice which has no doubt through swift transition is a mainstay in all of the varying trappings she’s packaged it in. From her days as R&B diva to a more recent stint as a marquee name in Gospel plays, Murdock settles nicely into ministry.
As if she just couldn’t wait to have the opportunity, Murdock encourages listeners at the end of her project in an unpolished invitation to salvation or rededication, to “not wait another moment” to come to Christ. Hands down, and to Murdock’s credit, it’s the most valuable track on the project.
reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North —
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