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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Image of a Man

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Sep
Image of a Man
Sounds like … Usher, Ne-Yo, Mario Winans, T-Pain, Sean Kingston, and other urban croonersAt a glance … After a long wait, Marvin Winans Jr. offers a first-rate urban debut, not to mention one of the smoothest gospel projects to see the light of day in 2008Track Listing Believe ("Baby Brotha" Remix) You Never Let Me Down It's Been So Long Feel It All Put Your Love on Me Steps to a Man Come 2 Me U Know Love Believe Mistakes Push, Pull (It's Alright) A Single Rose Let It Out Image of a Man

Second-generation members of the Winans clan have been anything but dormant in the past decade, but somehow their kids haven't been as productive. The only one who made some ripples in the music landscape so far was Mario Winans, but he's a Winans by association—the offspring of Vickie Winans' first marriage, before she married Marvin Winans Sr.

Out of that second marriage comes the next in the Winans lineage to leave a mark, Marvin Winans Jr, with his long-in-the-making solo debut Image of a Man. The disc comes nearly a decade after the junior Winans made a splash with his cousins as part of Winans Phase 2, a successful foursome that had its eyes set on gospel and crossover stardom—their dissolution still remains a mystery to this day.

Much like his half brother, Winans downplays the gospel inclinations of his family name and goes the contemporary R&B route, along the lines of mainstream heartthrobs Usher, Ne-Yo, and Sean Kingston. He's a smooth vocalist, favoring understated balladry, unfussy production values, and a futuristic vibe that at times recalls T-Pain, particularly in the vocoder-heavy first single, "You Never Let Me Down."

He's still at Winans at heart, though, so there's no mistaking Whom he's singing about. One way or another, every song deals with the singer's growth as a man—in his faith, his relationships, and his synergy with the world around him. Better yet, everything Winans communicates, including those songs that deal squarely with his walk with the Lord, are expressed sensibly, in a way that's palatable for even those outside the church.

Image of a Man works much like the youthful companion to Alone But Not Alone, Winans' father's knockout album from 2007. Both father and son seem to have a firm grasp on how to make faith-inspired music that appeals to the common man, in a language he can understand and a beat that's closer to the streets than the sanctuary.

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