On the Inside
- reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Jun
Alvin Slaughter has the kind of voice you never forget. His smooth, rich tenor has a husky, controlled strength that gives it a breathless quality as he sings of God's faithfulness, and a confident ease as he shares the beliefs he's clung to through the challenges of his life.
This versatility has allowed Slaughter to enjoy the acclaim of audiences within the gospel and praise-and-worship segments of Christian music. Since he began a solo career in 1990 after
several years as a guest vocalist with the Brooklyn Tabernacle
Choir (including his powerful, testimonial leading vocals on "I'm
Clean" and the title track on the choir's 1984 album
"Secret Place" is splashed with Caribbean-styled percussion. An enjoyable listen, this sleek track is fun and upbeat—a nice way to vary the pace. "Shout Hallelujah" has a similar vibe with a live, churchier feel supplied by Bond on organ and a call-and-response segment at the end. "I Believe" is a lyrical collage of oft-used phrases about God alternated with Slaughter's personal reflections on how God has proven himself in his own life. It features a brief spoken-word interlude. "Lord Please Draw Nigh" is a plea for God's presence among his people that includes a stirring modulation and a brief portion of "O Come Let Us Adore Him."
In "Ain't No Rock," Slaughter and Bond update LaMarquis Jefferson's 1987 praise-and-worship song, giving it a horn-and-guitar-infused R&B flavor that manages to be both smoother and brassier this time around. Understated organ and sassy background vocals make this track one praise team leaders will want to dust off and use again.
"Speak to the Mountain" has a techno-infused, danceable urgency accented by tight vocals, and "Power" features Slaughter's son Sean, who followed his father into the music industry—but as a rapper. Interestingly, these songs fit well into the overall album, providing variety and showcasing the flexibility of Slaughter's stylistic range.
Probably the most powerful track on the album is "Grace," a traditional gospel number penned by V. Michael McKay (who has written for Yolanda Adams and the Thompson Community Singers, among others). The lyrics include: "Grace saved me/When my verdict read guilty/Grace it kept me/When I couldn't keep myself/Grace will sustain me/Until I reach Glory/O what it means to me." The Atlanta-based New Birth Chorale joins Slaughter in this deeply moving testimony that builds to an expressive crescendo that is potent and compelling without losing control. A close second is "I Call the Name," Slaughter's celebration of the power in Jesus' name. It begins gently, then grows in intensity lyrically and musically. "Passion," the final song, serves as a fitting finale for the album. Accompanied by Jason White on piano and soaring strings, Slaughter's voice carries a sense of wonder as he shares his joy in the one he calls "My morning sunshine, my anchor and lifeline/My living word, my all and all."