Go Get Your Life Back
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Mar
A graduate from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Donald Lawrence is a proven talent in gospel music as a singer, songwriter, and producer. After getting his start as the musical director on recording-artist Stephanie Mills's tour, Donald has since gone on to work with artists such as Kirk Franklin, Peabo Bryson, En Vogue, Daryl Coley, and the late, great Thomas Whitfield. In the early '90s, Donald began his association with the esteemed Tri-City Singers, a community gospel choir from North Carolina. During the time he's served as their choir director, the Tri-City Singers have earned numerous awards and nominations. Their previous album,
Most of the new album was recorded live at the University Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The band on these tracks is truly stunning, one of the best I've heard among all the recent gospel albums. All you need to do is listen to the first track, "The Best Is Yet to Come," with its funky bass, punchy horns, and thick Latin-esque percussion to see what I mean. This is followed by "Seasons," which begins gently with acoustic guitar and Donald's beautiful soulful vocals, then slowly builds with the band, the swelling chorus of the Tri-City Singers, and the guest vocals of one of Donald's "definitive musical influences," Bishop Walter Hawkins. Speaking of Walter Hawkins, the album includes a pretty cover of his classic pop song "Lord, I Try." The featured vocalist, Erica Bratton-McCollough, sounds like a young Whitney Houston in this performance.
Donald also collaborated with another gospel legend for "Bless Me (Prayer of Jabez)." The song was co-written by Andrae Crouch, and it's the wonderful melody that carries the well-known words of the song. "Can I Lay in Your Arms" may be my favorite track on the album for its haunting melody, simple acoustic guitar, and piano accompaniment. The variety in arrangements — ranging from simple acoustic guitar to full band with brass and keyboards — proves Donald's skills at arranging and writing. Additionally, there are four new studio tracks spread throughout the album. Among them, my favorite is "I Can't Complain," which is vintage Donald Lawrence with a pulsing R&B groove to carry his message of giving thanks to God for what we have.
I'm all for an album designed to encourage and comfort people through trials, especially those of the 9/11 tragedy. However,