How U Gonna Live
You might as well put aside any preconceived notions you may have.Producer: Tony Rich
album release date: October 3, 2000
With How U Gonna Live, brothers Stan and Chris Jones
step out from
the Motown Gospel microcosm onto the national stage to deliver
some fresh vibes. They offer a unique mix of ol' skool soul
vocals with occasional bumpin' beats, frequent hip-hop flava and a
frequent dips into some of grandpa's quartet spice.
The resultant sound is certainly urban, yet with all those elements
in the mix, it has an edge yet unheard in Gospel.
Marking the project is the Jones' childhood friend and Grammy-nominated
songwriting genius, Tony Rich. It's the first of several projects
that Rich has lined up for Myrrh Records Black Music Division,
as part of an intriguing production/songwriting/A&R deal that he
has with the label.
Yes, this is a producer-driven project you can certainly pick
out that Tony Rich feel, with his acoustic guitar splashed touches and
his ultra-smooth gliding backing vocals riding underneath many a
cut. He also wrote all the songs.
with GospelFlava.com, Chris Jones explained that ten years
ago, he and his brother Stan joined asked their friend
Tony Rich (at that point unknown on the national stage)
to join The Wordd, their Gospel group based out of
Highland Park, Michigan. Rich took keyboard duties,
and began writing songs for the group, along with Chris.
"We called the group 'Wordd' with two 'd's at the end
due to trademark reasons. There was already a record
company out there with that name." (Ironically, it's
that same label Myrrh Records is a division of
Word Entertainmentthat Wordd now calls home.)
Some years later R&B opportunities took Rich away from
the group, but he promised to keep in contact. A Grammy Award
later, Rich has now returned, bringing his considerable songwriting
and production experience to the group. Yes, Wordd is bond.
But the gritty texture of Stan and Chris's vocals are forefront.
Take the title track. With a nod to hip-hop, Chris and Stan deliver
warning lyrics to the believer with minimal use of melodic tone much of
the song's sung melody rests on simply two notes. On "This Is A Party",
the duo drops grit again, beginning the Holy Ghost party tune with a
proclamation that 'it's time to jam, time to generate some joy'.
Tony Rich's brother, Juan Rich lends rap vocals to the cut.
On the other hand, "Better Day" is classic Tony Rich. It's a slow
jam of sorts, with a beautiful melody expressing hope, with lots
of soft acoustic percussion and folky guitar sounds. "Learn
To Pray" is in a similar vein, with a gorgeous smooth, stacked
chorus from Rich, guiding the tune along.
Also interesting is the sermonette, "For They Know Not", laced with rapid beats and
smooth chorus underneath the intense preaching.
Plenty hard vocals, smooth, honey harmonies, urbanized acoustic guitar, this is The Wordd.
It's a satisfying end to that search for something different.
reviewed by Stan North —
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