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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The Ambassador

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Nov
The Ambassador
Sounds like … a multi-artist gospel special as only Dr. Bobby Jones can host, featuring guest vocalists like Karen Clark-Sheard, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and Darwin HobbsAt a glance … the performances on The Ambassador runs the gamut from average to great, which is generally what people can expect from Bobby Jones' weekly gospel show on BETTrack Listing The Hand Of The Lord Can't Nobody Thank You Lord King Of Kings He Alone Knows Serve The Lord Serve The Lord (Reprise) Call Him Up Love, Peace & Joy The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow Dr. Jesus Free Interview with Bobby Jones and The Belle Report's Sheilah Belle Hand Of The Lord (bonus track)

Gospel fans should need no introduction to Dr. Bobby Jones. As the foremost television personality in the realm of gospel music, Jones has provided a platform for countless artists—both new and established—to get their songs showcased on a national cable network. Since 1980, he has been the host of BET's Bobby Jones Gospel, the first and only nationally syndicated black gospel television show, as well as one of the longest running in the history of cable TV.

Such transcendence has earned him the moniker of the Ambassador of Gospel, a distinction that his new GospoCentric album attempts to make clear. Similar to his show, the disc is set up as a contemporary gospel extravaganza, featuring guests from all walks of gospel. Though curiously, there aren't a lot of A-listers here—with all the clout the Bobby Jones brand carries, you'd think there'd be more. More unfortunate is that the overall feel is one of containment rather than of celebration.

Too bad, because there is some truly great gospel songwriting to be found here, particularly the churchier material ("The Hand of the Lord," "King of Kings"), which would've benefited from a more unrestrained, free-flowing environment. The stilted, clinical production even inhibits veterans like Karen Clark-Sheard and Darwin Hobbs, both of whom sound lethargic and fail to own their respective performances, even if the songs themselves are fine.

Happily, it's towards the back end of the album (where all the up-and-comers perform) that The Ambassador packs its strongest punch. Cliff Jones from 7 Sons of Soul nails it with the joyous and urbanized "Free," while Duranice Pace and the Nashville Super Choir start out soulful and build towards something more churchy on the empowering "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow." These don't quite salvage the album, but they're a testament that, when he wants to, Jones can really orchestrate a gospel spectacular of primetime proportions.

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