Tyrone Powell & The Friends of Christ
The Relationship Project

Gone are the days when quality Gospel came exclusively from the big name record conglomerates. It's no longer a 'story' when a superb CD comes from the offices of a smaller label. This time Tyrone Powell & The
 Friends of Christ CDout, the label is Smith Gospel Music, the same group who brought us the latest from Lorraine Stancil.

Innovative and fresh, Tryone Powell & The Friends of Christ (FOC) debut with a production-driven set that brings melting balladry together with with downright edgy approaches to musical ministry. The album is titled The Relationship Project, which serves to encompass their ministerial focus. They describe that as a dedication to "the renewing, restoration, and development of relationships with the Lord, spouses, family and friends."

The final cut on the CD is "The Call", and serves to encompass the title concept. The lyrics emphasize and exhort the importance of a relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ: "The Lord is calling / Calling for relationship / Don't you hear him calling, calling / Calling your name". The cut begins with a soft and simple structure, with the chorus underlying various vocal ad lib leads, before developing into a focused worship. Simultaneous personal worship prayers by individual choir members becoming evident by the time the cut ends.

Typical of the offerings Tyrone Powellby the 14-member choral ensemble is "Awesome God", which only vaguely resembles the familiar contemporary hymn by that name. FOC turns it into a worshipful musical adventure, complete with punchy vocal interspersions, DJ ad libs and various electric guitar add-ons.

"That's What I Bring" is another quality praise groove, albeit a short one, with Tyrone Powell bringing lead vocals, as he does for many of the cuts on this disc. Equal on the groove scale, but with a different vibe, is "Jesus I Love U", which excels as a personal one-on-one song (sing along with it, and you go straight into worship). It's an urban smoothie with a perfect mix of soft vocals, gentle keyboards, and riding rhythms.

Thirteen tracks deep, The Relationship Project seldom disappoints. The lyricism is worshipful and personal, the music is keyed by innovation, and propelled by excellent production. And from the opening seconds, it is obvious that this is a choir that sure enough sings.

Producer: Tyrone Powell
album release date: January, 2000
Smith Gospel Music

reviewed by Stan North

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