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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

... Again

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
 ... Again
Sounds like … a vertically focused collection of gospel, pop, and praise-and-worshipAt a Glance … this blend of bold, feel-good songs, hopeful ballads and reflective pieces showcases McClurkin's rich voice and versatility.

Few gospel albums in recent history rival the impact of Donnie McClurkin's Live In London and More. In a testament to its broad appeal, the album garnered six Stellar awards, a BET Award, a 2002 Soul Train Music Award, and several Dove Awards. Strong tracks like "Just for Me," "We Fall Down," "Who Would've Thought," and "Great Is Your Mercy" emphasized a faith that relates honestly and joyfully to a gracious God. In Again, McClurkin's first project since Live In London, he elaborates on the personal, relational themes that mark his journey toward holiness.

The album begins with "Again," an uptempo tribute to God's faithfulness. McClurkin's distinctive tenor celebrates: "Every time I turn around, the most amazing thing I've found/You're there to pick me up each time when I fall down/You never seem to mind and you're always treating me so kind/Time after time you've proven once again." Ray "The Weeper" Fuller accents the lyrics with sensitive guitar. The song also includes a playful nod to "We Fall Down," the hit single first sung by Bob Carlisle that took off after McClurkin recorded it on Live In London.

Without a doubt, McClurkin's handling of "The Prayer" makes it the standout track on this album. Songwriter David Foster approached McClurkin to sing the song, a duet recorded with Yolanda Adams. McClurkin and Adams complement each other well on this passionate, soaring plea that blends longing and desperation with faith and hope. The sweet string arrangement further distinguishes an already gorgeous interpretation-one that is sure to join the duets recorded by Andrea Bochelli with Celine Dion, and Josh Groban with Charlotte Church as favorites among Foster fans.

A choir of children joins McClurkin on "Yes You Can," a light, feel-good reminder that "You can be/The greatest ever, defeated never, even though sometimes you may lose." "I'm Walking," a bold, fun R&B/reggae-flavored number recorded live at West Angeles COGIC, features the New Antioch COGIC Children's Choir. Sassy horns by Mo' Horns, Dana Davis on drums, and Nelson Jackson's organ combine with the energy of the audience to make this a fun, memorable cut.

Walter Hawkins' "Special Gift" adds a classic flair, from the vocal arrangements and crisp rhythm to the solid, organ-and-bass-driven vamp at the end. Hawkins' sister Lynette is featured on this song. "Holy" is a soothing, reflective number recorded live. Directed by praise-and-worship artist Judith Christie-McAllister, it is a delicate, worshipful song that builds to dramatic intensities accented by the Nashville String Machine and McClurkin's enraptured ad-libbing.

"Create in Me a Clean Heart" will be sung by praise teams and choirs alike, and "So in Love" presents God as a mistreated lover whose heart breaks at his bride's repeated rejection. "Straight from the Heart" is a sweet, simple song reflecting writer Kevin Bond's desire to reach God's heart with praise. The smart, easy background vocals really hold their own with McClurkin in this song.

"He's Calling You" is an altar call to those who feel God moving in their hearts but are afraid to respond. Lyrics include: "You softly heard Him call and say/Promised that you'd change someday/Even if you run away, you still can't deny/Something's going on and its real/Somehow deep inside you can feel/He's calling you."

On several tracks, McClurkin's sisters join him as background vocalists, capturing the warm blend they shared on his 1999 album The McClurkin Project. Those who know Donnie McClurkin primarily from Live In London and More will miss the live feel of the entire album (keep an eye out for the upcoming Donnie McClurkin … Again: Live). But older fans who appreciate the breadth and variety of his talent – from his days singing with Detroit's Perfecting Praise choir and beyond – will enjoy this latest offering.