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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Spirit & Truth

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 May
Spirit & Truth
Sounds like … versatile "big choir" music with the gospel edge of Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, and the brisk, clean sound of Brooklyn TabernacleAt a glance … there are a couple of potential classics among this collection of Sunday-morning songsTrack ListingSuddenlyChrist in MeThank You for Your GraceHe Said ItSpirit & TruthHe's Been So Good to MeServant's PrayerBy FaithO Give ThanksWe Worship Christ the KingAnything Is Possible

One of the benefits of contemporary gospel music is its ability to highlight an individual artist in a studio or concert setting. But in doing so, the honest-to-goodness choir song is often neglected. That's not the case with Spirit & Truth, presented by the Atlanta-based New Birth Total Praise Choir. These 11 Sunday-morning songs are a fresh mine, with a couple of potential classics.

A distinctive of the Total Praise Choir—and of writer/producer Kevin Bond's work, for that matter—is the cleanliness of the sound. Traditional, choir-based gospel music can sometimes sound a bit ragged, simply because so many voices of varying ability are involved. Add to that the (often-competing) showcase band, and the effect can be murky.

Not so here. Remarkably, the 250 "whosoever will" members from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church blend well, and Bond's vocal arrangements and clean keys convey the message with both aural clarity and interest.

Highlights of the album include the reflective "Thank You for Your Grace," featuring lead vocals by Ted Winn of vocal duo Ted & Shari. Vanessa Bell Armstrong brings her cool, jazzy lead to "Suddenly," and "He Said It" features funky guitar and smart A-T-S breakdown. The title track is a beautiful praise chorus that builds to an intense finish. Labelmate (and fellow church member) Darwin Hobbs joins the choir on the jazz-bouncy "He's Been So Good to Me," and Elder William Murphy contributes a raspy, melismatic lead to "Servant's Prayer." "By Faith" has an uptempo, party-choir vibe, and "O Give Thanks" has a punchy, stylized choral feel.