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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Food for the Spirit

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Apr
Food for the Spirit
Sounds like … smooth soul in the Motown tradition over R&B beats and the occasional hip-hop sampleAt a glance … the former leader of The Miracles returns to his church beginnings for his first all-out inspirational offering, but they lyrics and arrangements are hackneyed and insipidTrack ListingJesus Told Me To Love YouLet Your Light Shine On MeThe Road To DamascusStanding on JesusHe Can Fix AnythingI Have Prayed On ItGang Bangin'I Praise & Worship You FatherWe Are the Warriors

As a Motown legend, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and leader of The Miracles, Smokey Robinson needs no introduction. Along with Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, Robinson influenced an entire movement of soul music.

It's been five years since Intimate, Robinson's last CD. His new Food for the Spirit actually took six years to write and record, returning Robinson to his church roots for nine inspirational songs. He tackles issues of conversion ("The Road to Damascus") defending one's faith ("We Are the Warriors") and worship ("I Praise & Worship You Father"). Robinson's voice is good as gold on these and other cuts, like the soulful samba of "Jesus Told Me To Love You" and the husky R&B beats of "Let Your Light Shine On Me."

Unfortunately, this CD has two big problems. First, there are the insipid arrangements, which sound stuck in the late '80s or early '90s. "Standing On Jesus" in particular sounds like Stevie Wonder or Quincy Jones from that era. The other problem is the lyrics, especially "Gang Bangin'" (about a hoodlum turning his life around), where the 60-something Robinson makes a lame attempt to sound street smart: "Smokin' that smoke, doin' that coke/ Dealin' that dope, givin' up hope/ Gang bangin'." Give me a break.

Although it's nice to hear Robinson sing about spiritual matters, one would've hoped for a better, more relevant, and slightly longer effort than this nine-track recording. Still, there's no denying his vocal prowess, which still holds up even after 40-plus years in show business.