- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Apr
- I'm a Man
- Clap Your Hands
- Prayin' 4 You
- You Can Make It
- Stand by Me / Daddy and Kayla Interlude
- Been Changed (feat. Tanya Blount)
- One of Those Days
- Thank You Jesus (A Tribute to the Dixie Hummingbirds)
- Way Back Home
- Trouble in My Way
- Don't Worry (He's on Time) (feat. Richard Smallwood)
The album cover for Witness, 7 Sons of Soul's sophomore effort, depicts the sextet sporting their Sunday best—blazers, slacks, button-down shirts, ties. Leaf through the rest of the album's artwork, and you'll see their other side: jeans, sneakers, track jackets, baseball caps. It's a contrast that well represents the group's interesting fusion of sacred and secular music—polished contemporary R&B with churchy, old-time quartet sounds.
Don't confuse Witness for neo-gospel. The Washington, D.C.-based aggregation makes sure to keep both stylistic preferences as distinct and separate as possible, to the point that you'll know exactly which songs to bump through your church's sound system, as opposed to the Escalade that you're yet to buy.
The quartet portion is pleasantly handled with gospel purists in mind. On "Stand By Me" and "Clap Your Hands," 7 Sons manages to sing every bit as good as the Mighty Clouds of Joy, but you can't help wondering whether the inclusion is necessity or mere novelty? The brothers go through all the motions—the handclaps, the toe-tapping, the shout-out to the congregation—but it's all quickly forgotten the moment you get to the R&B cuts, where the real essence of the 7 Sons lies.
It's during these tracks that the group really gets to shine, not only because the soundtrack is hip and cool, but because the message also becomes more relevant. There simply aren't enough urban artists at the moment, mainstream or otherwise, singing to young men about how to be a real man ("I'm a Man"), the importance of being a living testimony ("Witness"), or leaving your old life behind ("Been Changed"). It can get didactic at times, but Witness still isn't necessarily a seminar on manhood, or faith for that manner. However, the album does hit the spot for men that appreciate other men giving them straight talk on God, faithfulness, and church.