A New Beginning
The newly-formed Christian music division of Atlantic Records
pairs with Intimate Records to kickstart their Gospel roster
with a high-octane female quintet that is something of a
rarity in Gospel: they aren't North American based.Producers: Errol Henry, JC, Howard Francis
album release date: August 10, 1999
Hailing from the the highly credible but vastly underrated Gospel
scene in the U.K., True Solace emerges with a bold Brit-Gospel sound
that splashes some refreshing grooves into the US aural landscape.
However, it takes more than one listen to adjust to this new sound,
with beat-heavy and in-your-face mixes abounding through much of the
Loretta Akpan, Susane Patterson-Smith, Yolanda Antonio, Sheree Pinheiro
and Marcia Walder, ranging in age from 18 to mid-thirties, bring a
no-doubt vocal finesse into focus with this effort, at times sounding
like Virtue with a dash of Witness thrown in. The harmonies are
smooth and clean, blending so well that it’s easy to forget that
they are five individuals. In fact, sometimes that unity generates
a yearning for the individuality of the solo voices to shine
through. Perhaps next time.
The first Gospel single “Thank You“ was chosen wisely, as it’s
the cut that Gospel radio will most easily embrace. With subtle
B3 Hammond chords shuffled through the grooves, it’s a smooth
groove song of gratitude. The bonus track "JC Mellow mix" of
the same is also nice, with an added organ intro, and an overall heavier
organ prominence throughout.
Much of the other material doesn’t fit into the typical Gospel
sound, with an absent B3 and few acrobatic vocal runs.
But that’s not a diss. Check out “He’s Around” a raucous
number with hip-hop inflections, strengthened by the special debut
guest Gospel UK hiphop group, Solid Rock. “Someone Like You” is
another prominent track, with guitar riffs setting the scene for
an one-of-a-kind urban jam with a serious bass/rhythm undergroove.
With secular-turned-Gospel producer (and Intimate Records chief)
Errol Henry as the production genius behind the album, and with
mix work of Dexter Simmons (Brandy) and mastering by Ed Schreyer
(Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston), A New Beginning isn't fooling around on the
polished sound department. This could
generate some mainstream urban radio spins as well.
The beautiful thing to this is that there is no water in these
lyrics. No matter who gives this a spin, they’ll be hearing
the Gospel, straight up.
Atlantic / Intimate
reviewed by Stan North —
in GospelFlava © copyright 1999. Any information reprinted
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must be credited to GospelFlava.com