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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Love Letters

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Love Letters
Sounds like … urban-pop-infused gospel, with elements of funk, jazz, and soulAt a Glance … though it's tempting to lump Londa's debut with all the other urban gospel debuts, her terrific voice and the music's occasionally adventurous sounds set her album apart.

Londa Larmond is a brand new urban gospel artist who has already generated some buzz with her song "Once," which was featured on the recent WoW Gospel 2001 compilation. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Londa has performed with the Juno Award-winning Sharon Riley and Faith Chorale and has appeared at a variety of churches and conventions. Now Londa is sure to gain even more attention with her vibrant-sounding debut, Love Letters.

The album's lead single, "Once," is an infectious and exciting piece of urban gospel, as is the fusion jazz and funk of "He Lives." "He's All Right With Me" has more of a traditional gospel sound, as does "Hold On"—except the drumming is incredible and Londa shows off her vocal chops even more so (with a lot of overdubbing). "Help Him Stand" features a soulful, classic rhythm-and-blues sound, featuring the group Anointed on backing vocals. Then there's the gentle acoustic-guitar-based "I Delight In You," accompanied only by keyboard strings and finger snaps. It's beautiful and different, but very short. And of course, lyrically Londa offers what you'd expect of the gospel genre—vertically focused praise music suitable for corporate or personal worship.

If you listen to any one track on Love Letters by itself, you may be tempted to dismiss it as just another urban gospel project, but there's one thing that often makes it interesting, and that's variety. Londa's got an impressive voice that can be tender and soulful one moment, while sounding powerful and gritty the next. She seems capable of a variety of genres, equally exceptional at all of them, and she's able to switch between vocal styles gracefully and effortlessly within a given song. Londa doesn't write her own music, however, so a lot of credit needs to be given to the producers of Love Letters. They keep the album grounded in the realm of urban gospel, while touching it up with elements of jazz, funk, and soul. I'm always impressed when an artist works with multiple producers, a different one on most every song, and still manages to make the album sound consistent. Especially impressive, though, are the tracks performed by keyboard programming extraordinaire Mooki (The Katinas, Raze)—"Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)," "Once," and "Better Days" especially. While I can't call Love Letters the most incredible urban gospel project, Londa Larmond's stellar vocals and sharp production values make it a notable debut.