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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Days of My Life

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Aug
Days of My Life
Sounds like … modern R&B crooners Carl Thomas, Mario Winans, 112, and Musiq, with occasional nods to classics like Stevie Wonder.At a glance … a winner of an R&B album, fusing slickly-produced contemporary urban and soul sounds with just the right amount of old-school charm.Track Listing So GoodYou Don't KnowDays of My LifeThe Only OneLife Worth LivingTalkin' Bout LoveFlashbackOur LoveSo BeautifulJesus WillAll

If you follow Christian music closely, you may already be familiar with Antonio Neal without even knowing it. Though just now making his debut on EMI Gospel, the singer has made a number of low- and high-profile appearances on a host of tracks from the likes of Stacie Orrico, GRITS, Nicole C. Mullen, and Rachael Lampa, among others. These collaborations serve as the foundational inspiration for Neal's inaugural opus, Days of My Life. In it, the vocalist takes the best of pop, hip-hop, urban, and soul music, skillfully generating a hot hybrid that would sit comfortably amidst similar output from the latest by Mario Winans, 112, Carl Thomas, or your choice R&B crooner of today.

The fact that Neal co-helmed the production of the album with pop music connoisseur Tedd T. only solidifies the strength of these tracks. The pair not only has a knack for crafting unshakeable hooks, but they can also make the lyrics relevant without resorting to the overt nature of gospel music. Take audacious opener "So Good" or the unrelenting "You Don't Know," both buttery, declaratory head-bobbers that would sound equally at home in the club or at a praise party.

Even when the beats-per-minute slow down, Neal adopts a near-perfect acoustic soul style ("The Only One," "Flashback") that sounds like a crosspollination of Stevie Wonder and India.Arie. Of these, "Life Worth Living" is a pop-soul jewel, hearkening back to the time when quiet grooves, social conscience, and everyday introspection were the bread and butter of R&B music.

These qualities make Days of My Life an atypical debut that blurs the line between gospel and modern urban music, with plenty of crossover appeal yet enough spiritual fiber to win over saints and sinners alike.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.