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Sounds like … a modern gospel equivalent to the Hawkins Family with elements of jazz – you might say this is to Fred Hammond what God's Property is to Kirk FranklinAt a Glance … the Singletons' debut is an inspiring, energetic, and palatable blend of all flavors of gospel music.
Just over a year ago, gospel impresario Fred Hammond presented his vision for a new record label called F. Hammond Music by releasing a multi-artist compilation (entitled In Case You Missed It … And Then Some) that featured remakes of his songs, as well as a few originals by prospective artists. The first solo release, Joann Rosario's More More More, appeared in early 2002. The label's second release is Pour Out Your Holy Spirit by The Singletons, a family vocal group consisting of three sisters, three nieces, and two nephews all in their 20s and 30s. Interestingly enough, The Singletons all hail from Lansing, Michigan, and all have sung individually at various churches and local appearances, but they never sang together as a group until all eight of them were chosen to tour with Marvin Sapp. Fred Hammond happened to catch them in concert at a joint appearance in Detroit, and the rest is history. Gospel fans may recall the gospel radio hit "Pour Out Your Holy Spirit," which Fred wrote and featured on In Case You Missed It. If you liked the energetic urban gospel sound of that song, get ready to be impressed by the album that bears its name.
You'll note an intriguing blend of styles when you pop Pour Out Your Holy Spirit into your player. "Hallelujah" fuses contemporary gospel with a jazzy electric piano part that's played like a Latin piano riff, all on top of an energetic R&B/hip-hop groove. The song pretty much sums up the appeal of The Singletons – they're not just rehashing the same ol' gospel music. Their diverse gospel sound is scattered across the course of the album. "Bring Him In" is modern rhythm-and-blues-flavored gospel with a thick drum loop, reminiscent of Fred Hammond's urban worship sound. Fred himself appears in the song as a small vocal sample. Fans of funky R&B anthems such as "Stomp" and "Shackles" quickly will embrace "Wait," especially the "Street Mix" of the song that appears at the end of the album. The Singletons take on more of a classic gospel sound on the peppy and aggressive "Fight On," as well as on "Sole of My Feet," which is built upon a simple foot stomp/handclap rhythm and a very catchy acoustic guitar part. Pour Out Your Holy Spirit also is rife with standard gospel ballads such as "Hope Now In Him" and "Surrender," though "All of My Days" stands out as a wonderfully melodic pop-gospel anthem that recalls the songwriting of Kirk Franklin or Stevie Wonder.
There seems to be an increasing number of gospel albums featuring songs of encouragement, perhaps stemming from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but it's getting to the point where many gospel artists sound as though they're singing the exact same thing: songs that encourage us to wait patiently upon the Lord to get us through dark times. You'd think Pour Out Your Holy Spirit is following suit with titles such as "Hold On" and "Season of Change," but the songs seem more personable and less clichéd. "Season of Change" in particular distinguishes itself with a catchy and soulful arrangement reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," and the closing minutes of the song are quite powerful because of the lead vocals, guitars, and bass groove. "Fight On" seems to have the same message as "Hold On," but it's a more aggressive take on the "press on to the goal" theme found in Philippians 3:14. No doubt the songs featured here are of a higher caliber thanks to the writing contributions of Fred Hammond.
I don't mean to paint Pour Out Your Holy Spirit as the most innovative gospel project I've heard, but everyone involved seems to get it just right. It's fun, meaningful, well written, and well performed. You might say The Singletons are to Fred Hammond what God's Property was to Kirk Franklin – a talented group of young artists mentored by a brilliant songwriter and producer. The Singletons are off to a promising start with this energetic, inspiring, and palatable blend of all flavors of gospel music.