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Take It Back

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Apr
Take It Back
Sounds like … the unmistakable gospel/R&B stamp of the Clark family dynasty—The Clark Sisters, Karen Clark-Sheard, and Kierra "KiKi" SheardAt a glance … like her sister Karen, Dorinda Clark-Cole mixes old and new in an album that also happens to be her most complete to dateTrack Listing Faithful Yesterday Got to Hold on Take It Back Make Me Real Praise Your Way Out It's Okay No Weapon Return If I Were

After the monster year the Clark Sisters had in 2007—the biggest in their nearly 30-year run—Dorinda Clark-Cole seems primed for the release of her third solo album, Take It Back. The timing is certainly strange, since the group is still touring and even planning a follow-up to their watershed reunion disc, Live—One Last Time. But the increased attention certainly couldn't hurt, especially now that Clark-Cole is, among other distinctions, a Grammy winner.

While her previous efforts were predominantly live projects, Take It Back brings Clark-Cole's familiar contemporary gospel style into the studio. The new setting gives the album more containment, which at times is needed in the case of a Clark recording. Like the rest of her pedigree, Clark-Cole is an excellent vocalist, adept at delivering jazzed-out vocal runs and scats—impressive skills that, while trademark, can get out of hand if they're not tempered properly.

Producer Asaph Ward is good at keeping things in check, and he gives Clark-Cole top-notch material upon which to work her acrobatics. There's a fair share of high-flight contemporary gospel ("No Weapon," "Make Me Real"), which Clark-Cole handles like a pro, but it's the hand-clapping, COGIC-styled gospel that the singer absolutely owns. The devil-bashing title track is the prime example—a toe-tapping song of victory that would make the singer's mother (the late gospel pioneer Mattie Moss Clark) smile.

Clark-Cole tries moving outside of her comfort zone, too, like the stunning "Yesterday," a lovely ballad that feels lifted from her sister Karen's 2nd Chance album. Another knockout is the breezy "Faithful," a terrific marriage of classic harmonies, urban finesse, and slick funk grooves. And she even aims at a younger demographic with "Return" and "It's Okay," the latter a modern R&B track featuring niece Kierra "KiKi" Sheard. It all amounts to the most complete Clark-Cole album to date—as well as a good crash lesson on how the Clark sound has evolved over the years.

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