Virtue splashes back on the scene with a fresh look and sound. Moving forward with strength in a threesome, Ebony, Karima and Heather, knit themselves together in harmony.Nureau’s for souls not just for cash
Virtuosity presented by Verity Records marks the group’s third appearance on the Gospel scene. People love them, and this release is a fine example why.
They start out with a Take Six-esque "Intro" done by none other than two members of Take Six, Karima’s husband Joey Kibble and his brother Mark. Other producers to be noted are T.Boy, Sean Hall, Derek Allen and Kevin Bond quite the crew assembled to bring out the best in Virtue.
Bond checks in with the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and gives it a light, mid-tempo treatment befitting sanctified young folks. With a gentle flow on the instrumentation and some unconventional vocal harmonies, you have a song with a sparkling new finish.
Derek Allen co-writes with Juanita Wynn on the urban spinworth “He’s Been Good”. Already on the funky side of the fence, the “He’s Been Good” remix crafted by Darkchild’s Freddy Jerkins tips totally over.
Some of the ballads on this project play like a medley of soundtrack material for Disney; and I mean that in the best possible way. Beginning with the Kibbles' “You’ve Been Merciful”, the clarity in the voices, the uncluttered arrangement of the instruments, and some expressive, powerful lyrics, make for heavily impacting material.
Following this pattern are “Till You Believe”, both penned by Hallerin Hilton Hill and Joey Kibble. These guys provide wonderful testimony that you don’t need to have a million runs or competition complex instrumentation to be effective or good. The Nashville String Machine adds some notable luster.
T.Boy weighs in on the lighter side with “You Are My Everything” which starts out with lead vocals from Ebony. He then hits much harder on “Can’t Believe”, a intense production festival with syncopated vocal lines about being chosen of God. This song also includes a significant rap segment:
You make potatoes, I’m here 2 mash
Boombastic baptism living waters go splash
While you lookin’ clueless like your name was Stacy Dash
rap segment from "Can't Believe"
Sean Hall, recently in memory from his work with DeLeon Richards on her latest (see album review), produces a snaggy number, “God Is Your Source” with a dangerous hook and a nice vocal arrangement that takes advantage of Virtue’s skill in weaving tight and complex vocal lines. Nate Butler and the entire Virtue crew join in penning this album highlight.
The followup cut, “I Am God”, also from Hall and the same writing crew, is a bumpy and choppy number with more street edge courtesy the track.
Overall, this is a departure for Virtue in a very real sense, with significant detours into glory beats and rhythms.
Yet through the flash, this is still the Virtue we know and love they succeed in letting their signature vocal blends shine throughout.
Producers: K. Bond, D. Allen, T.Boy, S. Hall, Kibbles
album release date: September 25, 2001
reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North —
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