The Best of Darwin Hobbs
- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Sep
- Glorify Him
- Nobody Like Jesus
- I Give You Praise
- I Can't Live Without You
- So Amazing
- Beautiful to Me
- We Worship You Today
Darwin Hobbs has got to be the most underrated singer in contemporary gospel music. Vocally, he's got one of the most impressive, towering ranges in the entire genre. Since his move to Nashville in the mid '90s, other artists have clearly taken notice, leading Hobbs to session work for everyone and their mother within CCM circles. You name it, he's sung with them all: even Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, Steve Green, Sandi Patty, and Chris Tomlin.
Curiously, contemporary gospel has yet to catch on. Since 1999, Hobbs has released four recordings with EMI Gospel—Mercy, Vertical, Broken, and Worshipper—yet a true hit via radio airplay or album sales still eludes him. Worshipper, in particular, should've sent him over the top, as it was one of the best worship albums contemporary gospel has ever seen. Could it be he's too smooth for gospel? Too soulful for Sunday morning choirs? Or is his dead-on Luther Vandross tone too much for churchgoers?
Beats me, but The Best of Darwin Hobbs at least provides a good overview of Hobbs' run at EMI, enough for latecomers to catch up. The compilation reflects the vocalist's penchant for contemporary R&B and worshipful gospel, particularly how good he is at mixing both. Tracks like soulful "Grace," "We Worship You Today," and the spine-tingling "I Give You Praise" are all great examples of Hobbs' worshipping heart, a tendency he's explored before it became fashionable in gospel through other artists.
Hobbs has a lot more worship where these selections came from, so it would've been nice if this collection included them. Still, there's enough of his more urban side to offset the omissions, particularly his spot-on cover of Vandross' "So Amazing," as well as killer duets with Michael McDonald ("Everyday") and Shirley Murdock ("Nobody Like Jesus")—alas, his duet with Donna Summer, "When I Look Up," was excluded. There are still enough highlights on this best of to bring the uninitiated up to speed and hopefully bring more exposure to this often overlooked talent.