Wanda Nero Butler
Live in Birmingham
Wanda Nero Butler returns with a live project that features all the hallmarks of this Detroit-based singer: lots of shouting and wailing, and an abundance of energy and enthusiasm in interpreting choir-backed material.Producers: Wanda Nero Butler, Marcus Devine
album release date: August, 2001
In recent albums, Butler has taken on production responsibilities, and she continues to add to her experience here on Live in Alabama, joining with Motown’s rising Marcus Devine, who also serves as music director.
Instrumentally, Devine handles bass with Cordell Walton on keyboards and lead guitar and Brian Watkins and Lamar Johnson also contributing. Choir voices come from an assembly of Alabama ministries.
Song picks are “Adore Him”, a Butler praise composition with low register mass vocals riding a simmering, bass-dominant groove laid down by the band.
On the more laidback “Zion”, Butler begins by singing sweetly about heaven with choir softly echoing the single word of the song’s title. She promptly switches to power the mic with her pipes by song’s end.
Shout-tempoed cuts are all over the disc, with “Power In The House”, “Stand Up” and the choir complexities of “Joy Of My Life” being good examples.
But there's other, less conventional approaches to song on the project that stand out. “I Give You Praise” is one of these, a duet from Devine’s pen. He joins with Butler in trading leads before they combine together in harmony, soaring with choir to punctuate the worship as the song builds to conclusion.
The project concludes with the pop anthem and melody-driven “Could U Be” from Judaea Butler, with a guitar-steeped reprise. Basic but effective chord changes combined with classic riffs, wails and straight-out singing from Butler serve to fuel this ode, which expresses wonderment of God’s undying love.
Some spots of the album suffer notably from live recording difficulties, particularly in the area of sound distortion. For the most part, these are overwhelmed by strong songwriting and the sheer power of Butler’s delivery.
Sound of Gospel
reviewed by Stan North —
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