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Dear Lord

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Dear Lord
Sounds like … smooth soul and rhythm and blues similar to R. Kelly, Public Announcement, and Anointed's slower material. At a Glance … this young duo has a lot of heart and soul, but recycles similar-sounding background tracks to make most of the songs run together.

For two young men in their early 20s, the members of Remixx sure have mature voices. In fact, before researching the group's history, I assumed the performers were much older and had been singing for quite some time. Although the members of Remixx, brothers T-Jay and Drew Gibson, have been singing since their early teens, Dear Lord marks their national label debut. These brothers come from a broken home run solely by their mother who instilled in them strong morals, as well as the hope they could follow any dream they wanted.

T-Jay's primary dream was to play in the NBA, but when that didn't pan out, he, along with Drew, turned to his musical side interest to find satisfaction. The two crafted their vocals by singing with instrumental background tracks, and eventually cut an independent album. In support of the project, Remixx performed throughout the Bay area and had the chance to open for the likes of Kirk Franklin, Tyrese, and Mary Mary. Those high-profile appearances caught the attention of Word Records executives, who offered the group the chance to take their talents to the national level.

But perhaps Word has turned the duo into something they aren't. Instead of boasting edgy, hip-hop-flavored beats to appeal to their peers, Remixx sports a tame adult contemporary sound with very little variety throughout the album. Their voices and lyrics are so strong, yet the beats are reserved and non-inventive. The opening cut, "7 Times a Lady," sounds like it could have come from a Public Announcement disc (the group that soul superstar and professed born-again Christian R. Kelly started in). The duo showcases their soulful harmonies behind the sounds of a gentle drum loop and bass sampling while the words pay tribute to their mother, who worked so hard to raise them with a strong foundation despite her challenging circumstances.

The title cut, "I Won't Run From You," and "Joy" showcase the duo's obvious chemistry, but are only slightly deviant of the other background tracks found on the project. They all have a similar bass beat and that recycled synthesized drum sound. "You Make Me Say" and "I Won't Run From You" seem like they may develop into a deeper groove from the opening moment, but only a few notes into each song the pace goes back to the same bland level. I do like the lyrics in "I Won't Run From You," which talks about a person committing to God's will rather than praying for it without following it (something we've all been guilty of): "How would life be / If you should take your love from me / Promise you'll never leave my side / And if the world must know / It's only you that I live for / So I'm gonna fight, fight, fight / For your love, yeah."

The first minimal sign of departure comes during "Never Gonna Leave You." The song starts with a short rap by Cameo that throws listeners a curve, allowing the influences of Lauyrn Hill and Da Brat to shine through. The words communicate the need to trust that the Lord will never leave his people: "She may never feel like she can ever be safe / When the doctor told her she won't see another day / Well I'm here to tell you if you're looking for a change / Won't you put your trust in him / All your fear, he'll take away." The other sign of life comes during the closing track, "I'd Rather Be With You." Remixx incorporates a bit of spoken word dialogue at the beginning, similar in style to Kirk Franklin's introductions. The chorus is simple but reassuring: "I'd rather be with you / I can't make it by myself / I'd rather trust you / Than trust someone else / That's why I believe in you / You know me better than I know myself."

I would have really enjoyed this record based on the duo's vocal power, provided they didn't hide behind so many similar sounds. I can't wholeheartedly recommend this project based primarily on that factor, but I'd give them a second chance if they release a follow-up album. However, fans of adult contemporary urban music may still want to check this one out in hopes of hearing a smooth and relaxing sound, along with solid lyrical honesty that really hits home.

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