Tarra Scotton & Strong Tower
I Wanna Thank You
Philly has a knack for bringing innovative and deeply soulful artists to the Gospel scene. Take Tony Moore and Jehovah’s Chosen, David P. Stevens and Friends, or The Cross Movement, for example.Producers: Mark Hafer
album release date: June, 2001
Continuing in this legacy is Tarra Scotton & Strong Tower (aka TS & ST), who hail from the Philadelphia area and deliver an intense project debut, I Wanna Thank You on Zopro Records.
Strongly creative and loaded with fresh edgy flava, this groups delivers their praise in a style that fuses rich soul with jazz harmonic inflections, and laces it with grooves that are simultaneously scorched with fiery guitar and soothed with Fender Rhodes.
Any of the eleven tracks are ample evidence to the superb musicianship coming from band quarters; the groove is constant, with nary a lapse. Some may marvel that such heavy excellence could come at such a young age, since lead writer and drummer Eric Green Jr. put down these tracks at age 16. As impressive as that may be, you would be marvelling at the quality and fierceness of the grooves he directs to disk even if you didn’t know the age factor.
Strong Tower also includes Norwood Long on bass, and the keyboard stylings of Reggie Rice and Irvin Washington (all equally youthful). Their stuff is relentless serious jamming with a 70’s authenticity derived from the soul.
Anchoring each cut is Tarra Scotton on vocals, bringing her experience to the fore. Her alto range is extensive, and with her able backing trio providing vocal support, she works her way through the album, freely combining controlled improvisation with an ability to stay focused on the melody (which more often than not, is of the elusive variety).
Notable cuts are “God Is Worthy”, which brings a strident, riff-heavy guitar over Scotton’s expounding of God’s character, and the title cut which has elements of rock and jazz branded all over it.
On “If My People”, the melody is a sticky as it gets on this album, with an irresistable vocal hook gilded with soft harmonies and drifting, broken piano chording surrounding it. With vibey music written by Greene Jr., the song speaks to the need for God’s people to turn and acknowledge Him, laying out the promises that God has us.
“Time Is Winding Down” begins with a anxious shuffle of soft drums that easily conveys the message of the tune. Punctuated by some rich, rhythmic chording and Scotton’s ability to snag attention by way of her phrasing, this one is an easy draw.
With a jam factor this intense, it’s fitting that the album ends on an instrumental note. “God’s Untitled Praise” is a full 14-minute plus offering, a Rhodes/ percussion extenda-ride that summarizes the tone of the album. It’s praise in all its creative glory, giving honor to the Creator.
reviewed by Stan North —
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