T H E R E V I E W Z O N E
With grateful acknowledgement to: AUTHENTIC, ELEVATION, CAPITOL CMG, INTEGRITY, McCAIN, PROVIDENCE & VERITY MEDIA ORGANISATIONS.
ALISIA TURNER : Alisa Turner. (Integrity Music)
This is a six track EP rather than a full album, and it marks Alisa's Debut. The first thing that struck me about this collection of songs was the sound of the vocals, they are very distinctive, in fact I can't really think of anyone else that I could compare this voice to. Perhaps the nearest one would be Katie Melua. I really like the vocals though, each song comes over as very heartfelt, and I got the impression that Alisa was putting everything into her singing. The songs themselves are sung from a quite personal point of view, and I felt that they came from her own experiences through life. The music varies from quite laid back rock / pop arrangements to some full blown power ballad style songs. There are some really nice string arrangements, especially nice on the track "My Prayer For You". I would like to hear a full album of Alisa's music, it would get a lot of play I think. There's nothing on this EP that I don't like, and I have played it several times through without getting bored with it. It's available on all the usual download sites, iTunes, Amazon etc. This EP is really worth checking out in my opinion. 10/10. Andy Sayner.
TRIUMPHANT : Thankful. (Stow Town : STR3185)
Triumphant is the face of quality Gospel Music, Christian integrity, family values, friendship and dedication. The group has been that way since their beginnings in 2003, when the four friends first walked out on a stage in Tennessee as a headlining talent. Each current Triumphant group member was there in that defining moment, and has continued together ever since. This new album pulls together all that experience and superb vocal quality, and presents eleven new songs. Although all the voices are great, I couldn’t help but point out the baritone that is, Scotty Inman. How anyone can reach those notes is beyond me. The songs are fairly easy listening, as with the opening “We Welcome Your Holy Spirit.” Following that, comes “Chain Breaker.” Whether your personal chains are chains of hurt or loss, God can break you free. Throughout the track listing, I couldn’t help but think that this was an album of encouragement. God is constant, through every trial. He’s always loving, and always watching – that’s the message behind “God Will Always Be God.” Instrumentally, the musicians are of top quality and include renowned pianist Gordon Mote and Joel Key. The latter provides some excellent banjo playing on the foot tapping ditty “Thankful, So Thankful.” A couple of the ballads left me a little cold, but on the whole, this is a really good southern gospel album. 8/10.
ECHO : Soul Proprietor. (Plankton Records : PCDN173)
Following on from their successful debut release of 2014, the East London and Essex based soul band are back with 14 brand new soul and Motown tracks. With producer/musician/arranger Richard Cottle employed to polish their own arrangements, Echo have produced another cultured album. The first, two tracks are really infectious. “This Will Be” and “This is It” are great to dance around your house to, and have a distinct sound of joy. Everyone will recognise “People Get Ready,” and this version is excellent. Marie Da Silva’s vocals are note perfect. Some of the lesser known songs took me a few listens to get used to. “I Got The Blues” and “Ain’t Nobody” being two of them. Echo give distinct new arrangement to the classic Love Affair song “Everlasting Love”, while “I Get the Sweetest Feeling” stands head and shoulders as the best track on the album. Instrumentally, there’s some nice guitar work on “No Pain, No Gain” but I would, personally, liked to have head more throughout the recording. Other notable songs include “Know Where to Run” and the catchy “Do I Love You?” My least favourite track has to be the closing “What’s Going On.” Da Silva duets with Richard Cope on a song about persecuted Christians, co-written by Marvin Gaye. The song is not particularly good, but it trickles to an end as audio news reports are played over a saxophone solo. There’s plenty of highlights with this release but I’m sure that there’s more to come from this group of talented musicians. 8/10.
HOLLYN : One Way Conversations. (Gotee :66944700568)
A former Dove Awards New Artist of the Year nominee, Hollyn, is from Ohio, and has been working on this debut album for the past year. Style-wise, most of the tracks fall into the popular urban and hip-hop genre, and I found it all quite tiring to listen to. “Can’t Live Without” opens proceedings, as Hollyn sings about not being able to contemplate living without God’s love in her life. Following that, there’s an almost Katie Perry cloned number called “Love With Your Life.” The music is quite catchy, but her vocals quality doesn’t quite make it. Mid-album, Steven Malcolm and Andy Mineo provide a rap to Hollyn’s sung chorus, but the whole thing just sounded rather odd to me. Indeed, I found it quite difficult to pull anything positive about this album as a whole. Reading the lyrics, there’s no doubt that this singer has a heart for God, but I’m not convinced that she’s delivering them in the right genre. If I had to pick out one good song, then maybe “Waiting For” would be the one. It’s a quieter number, and proves that all s not lost from a rather disappointing release. 4/10.
THE PERRYS : Testament. (Stow Town Records : STR3191)
Southern Gospel Group The Perrys can be traced back to 1970 when Libbi Perry Stuffle began their journey. Today, she is the mainstay of the group and provides lead vocals on various tracks upon this album. Songs such as “I Will Pray” and “Find Me Faithful” see Libbi in full flight with excellent vocals. In fact, the vocals of the five members are pretty faultless throughout. Only the lead on “Who Could I Have Been” fails to maintain the high standard. As with most gospel groups, harmonies are so important to the music, and The Perrys fill that responsibility so well. “It’s Not Here to Stay” is all about the temporary world that we live in today, and it’s comparison to the glory of eternal life, that’s waiting for us. The song is well delivered and has a catchy hook. I’m always a sucker for the sound of a banjo and on “Moses and Elijah”, it gives almost the feel of a hoe-down to proceedings. Ballads are few but the big production number has to be “It Carried Him.” The vocals are full blooded and carry great power. This group are stalwarts of the US scene, and it’s about time that the UK heard what all the fuss is about. 8/10.
LOUISE GREGG : Constant. ()
Here we have the five track debut from Manchester Vinelife Church based songwriter/musician/music therapist Louise Gregg. Self-produced, with friends contributing and mastered by Dan Stirling Audio, 'Constant' represents an excellent 25 minute introduction to Louise's music ministry. She is a strong songwriter from the 'personal experience' viewpoint, "Each track was birthed out of significant moments in my journey over the last few years .... Every song is filled with victories won and freedom that I've journeyed into." Louise has a lovely voice - a sort of Louise Fellingham but without her huskiness! All five tracks represent beautifully presented contemporary Christian 'pop' - acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboards, drums - and it is difficult to select a standout. Lyrically my two favourites are probably track 2 'Heart runs to' (with the repeated line "You've never failed and you never will") and track 5 'Constant friend' ("Jesus you are better than I could imagine and I know all I've seen is a glimpse"). It is a shame that despite being pretty good sound-wise the odd word is difficult to pick out, particularly as there are no printed lyrics that I could find. Overall however I enjoyed this release and I would like to think it won't be long before we see a full album from Louise. 9/10 Dave Deeks