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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jun
Sounds like … Destiny's Child, Trin-i-tee 5:7, Mary Mary, Out of Eden and similar female-fronted, urban-pop groupsAt a glance …more pop-savvy and street-hip than ever, this is Virtue's most unified and complete album to dateTrack Listing Follow Me Testimony The Sky Is the Limit 123 Praise! (feat. T-Bone) Give Him the Praises Thank You Jesus Fall Again Nothing Ever Mattered Get Up Praises to You (feat. Martha Munizzi) Praises to You (Reprise) Holy Holy Down With It 123 Praise! (Remix)

One need look no further than the traditionalist cover of Virtue's 1999 debut to realize how much the group has evolved through the years. Not only did they trade the color-matching business suits for hipper clothes, but sisters Ebony, Karima and Heather have also braved a number of transitions—namely membership changes, marriage, motherhood, new management, and the end of their four-album tenure with Verity Records.

They're undoubtedly at a new place now—they recently signed a deal with DarkChild Gospel, the newly formed arm of DarkChild Entertainment, the production company responsible for endless hits from the likes of Destiny's Child, Toni Braxton and Whitney Houston. Together, they pulled out all the stops to make Virtue's fifth effort, Testimony, the most unified of their career. Fred "Uncle Freddie" Jerkins manned the entire record, giving the project an all-around cohesion not present in the trio's earlier discs.

And from a vocal perspective, Virtue has never sounded better. Props are due for vocal producer LaShawn Daniels (Brandy, Destiny's Child), whose arrangements take the sisters' singing prowess to another level. For example, the nuances of "The Sky Is the Limit" are dizzying, and for the first time one gets a feeling the group is singing real R&B music. The urban flair of the tracks is more legit, with a marked emphasis on hooks and pop value—again, something that was missing from Virtue's "churchier" albums.

That's not to say they've totally forgotten where they come from; there are a couple of gospelized pleasers ("Get Up," "Give Him the Praises") and worshipful ballads ("Praises to You," "Holy Holy") that pay homage to their heritage. The latter two—which are too sappy—plus some underdeveloped lyrics throughout are but slight detractions from an album that's otherwise Virtue's strongest, most consistent thus far.

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