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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Aug
Sounds like … contemporary R&B for fans of groups like Men of Standard and vintage CommissionedAt a glance … the members of Fortitude sing well together, but the album doesn't reach the high standards set by their recent contemporaries in the genreTrack ListingHe's AlrightHe Will SupplyMy FaithIn Your ArmsFreedomLet God AriseThe Question IsDanceGod Did ItWhere You Go

The four members of Fortitude—Jamie Simond, Cinque Cullar, Leon "Rock" Guyton and Teddy Jackson—first recorded together as NuWave. Their independent release, So Grateful to You (Imani Faith), was nominated for a 1999 Stellar Award for Best New Artist. You can also hear them on 2001's album of wedding music, With This Ring, and Ray Bady's Mission K.O.B. (2002).

This self-titled project, Fortitude's first for Word/Warner, features the Chicago natives singing a blend of R&B- and pop-influenced gospel. Highlights include the opening track, "He's Alright," featuring a sleek, churchified R&B sound; the tight harmonies and graceful keys of "He Will Supply"; and the tender lead vocals, pop stylings and comparatively thoughtful lyrics of "In Your Arms."

The album includes a version of "The Question Is" (yes, that "The Question Is"-the one from The Winans' 1981 release Introducing the Winans). That's a serious move—a tacit appropriation of the Winans' legacy—but it doesn't work. This version is serviceable, but nowhere near as satisfying as the original. It doesn't have the rich aural interest created by the interplay between shimmering keys, burnished horn, Marvin Winans' leathery lead and the relaxed-but-sharp brothers in the background—or, the bouncing, tight urgency of the updated version performed by Woody Rock and Men of Standard on Rock's Soul Music (2002). It's really symbolic of the entire album. It's fine and functional, but the music often sounds dated and the songwriting is frequently cliché-laden.

Make no mistake—these guys sing well together. But at this point, there's no comparison to the real standard-bearers in the contemporary gospel/R&B genre—the greats like The Winans, Commissioned in its heyday and Men of Standard's stronger work.