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Sounds like … Fred Hammond, Darwin Hobbs, Byron Cage, Joe Pace, and other gospel stalwarts with a flair for worship and choral elementsAt a glance … it's only his first album, but Kevin Vasser sounds like a seasoned veteran on this knockout, multifaceted debutTrack Listing One Touch So Glad Show Us the Way My Best Praise Highest Praise Pray for Me Your Miracle The Awesome God God's House Lord Your Name
For a gospel newcomer, Kevin Vasser is a bit of a rarity. At a time when most hopefuls in the genre straddle the fence between the streets and the sanctuary, Vasser goes against the grain and makes no qualms about being a bona fide church boy. As director of worship and arts at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, he knows a thing or two about music ministry, so much that he recorded his debut, So Glad, without the help of a record label.
After the album was already in the can, EMI Gospel sensed the potential and picked it up for distribution. A wise move, indeed, since So Glad has all the makings of a blockbuster gospel outing. Despite its setting, Vasser went to great lengths to avoid the common trappings of church-based recordings—long-windedness, homogeneity, sameness, sermonizing—opting instead for a soundtrack that's taut and eclectic, yet still firmly grounded in contemporary gospel.
No one song on So Glad is similar to the next, fluctuating between R&B/funk ("One Touch," "So Glad"), high-octane celebration ("Highest Praise"), and no-holds-barred adoration ("Lord Your Name"). Particularly noteworthy is the reflective "Your Miracle," a track that uses gospel, reggae, and a bit of salsa to usher the saints in song. The showstopper, though, is "Pray for Me," a traditional tour de force where Vasser takes us straight to church—and leaves us there.
We're inclined to listen because Vasser possesses vocal command to spare. He's a vocalist's vocalist, right up there with Fred Hammond, Marvin Winans, and other gospel veterans several years his senior. If he plays his cards right, he may one day be mentioned in the same breath as them: So Glad is so good, that the possibility of that happening doesn't seem too far-fetched.