- 2012 Grammy Nominee: Best Gospel Album
Andrae is no stranger to the Grammy field. He won his first one in 1975, and has taken how seven coveted prizes every since. This album was his first in about six years, and includes several notable collaborations throughout. Though Spotify doesn't credit them, noted on the Grammy site is Chaka Khan, Kim Burrell (who was also nominated in this category), Take 6, and Sheila E. (my fave female drummer, personally).
"The Journey" was nominated for Best Gospel Album. Let's see what the deal is.
Andrae's welcome to us is saying "Somebody Told Me About Jesus." Slight funky sound going on alongside the gospel electric organs playing. It's only when I hear gospel that I realize R&B's true roots, and this song is a prime example. The song's pretty simple when it all boils down, but it's a great upbeat kick-off to the album. Though, funny how you don't really head all that much from Andrae himself - mostly the ladies of the background choir.
"Good Time" isn't just an Alan Jackson song a bunch of folks I went to college with appeared in the video for with the world's longest line dance - it's also the next track! I also don't know why I needed to lead with that particular sentence but… my blog, my ramblings. Anywhos, this totally funk-based guitar leads in, and the choir is just slightly lower and more intense as they build into things. Man, I love gospel choirs - one group takes on such amazing personality united!
It's super late after a long day of work, so I was trying to keep my head bopping to the music, but "Where Jesus Is" is one of those sweet slower soulful gospel songs, and this may just comfortably lull me to sleep. The call out for Jesus is what strikes me the most here. I was always taught that Jesus is always with you, regardless of location, time, etc. This is a call out for help and guidance to find him, and shows a humbleness and confusion necessary at the bottom of the fall.
"He Has A Plan For Me" is taking things in a whole other direction at the start. We get this old sounding 20's theme and recording scratch opening. The song comes in full force as the choir takes on the words full-force, but still maintaining this really good old piano and horn sound. I certainly have never heard this kind of sound from any church choir I've ever heard or been a part of!
Keeping with a bit of a jazz sound in a smokey room, we get "Faith." This is headed by a soloist taking things to a low level of heartfelt song spinning. The lyrics are simple in their repetition, basically admiring the strength and necessity of having faith. This one sits at a little over seven minutes (most songs on the album are on the 4/5 minute + side), and maintains about the same tone and meaning throughout, no matter how far she gets in. Wait, no, I spoke too soon - the choir comes in to back up her feelings, creating another level of harmonic accompaniment.
"When I Think About You" picks things back up with the electric organ playing a cute pop-y melody to start things off. This one's downright groovy. Interesting - there seem to be a pretty wide spectrum of styles being covered all on this one album and from, seemingly, one choir of voices. Versatile? Yes, for sure. Normal? Nah, but who cares?
A slower jam comes on for "Jesus Came Into My Life." I think we're finally going to get a song fully fronted by Andrae Crouch, and if not, I want credit to his version of The Family (a la Kirk Franklin). This one winds up having a pretty nifty (yup, nifty) 60's groove sound and includes a touch of Sonny and Cher bop to it. I can appreciate the life-changing story in this literal 'come to Jesus' moment Andrae seems to be explaining to us. Cute little spoken word portion in there as well, almost seemingly keeping to a rhythm.
"All Around The World" funks it up a bit. It's seven minutes long, which I'm sure doesn't feel all that long live, but recorded it's a bit much. Acceptable though - and I say this from experience. I sang in a Gospel choir for about a year in college, and when you guys are getting lost in a song, it can go on for quite some time without anyone actually realizing it. Repeat, repeat, repeat, praise. What is a little new to me is hearing the band in the background getting just as in to things as the choir - now that is a very cool show of emotions. By the way, found out this one was the track that include Chaka Khan and Sheila E. - thank you random YouTube picture videos!
Yah know, I didn't realize until he opens "I Can" so honestly and humbly, that Andrae Crouch has a really interesting voice. Think Randy Newman and you might be about there. This particular track has a symphonic background instrumentally, but his voice is simple and alone and the words just seem to come to him naturally. In fact, I think if it were just him and the piano, you'd probably have a hard time keeping your eyes dry during this track. No violins necessary - just sing from the heart.
"Heaven Bound" brings the pacing back up for sure. This is a call-and-response type gospel number, with a leader for sure dancing in the front, getting the grows really into it. Gospel, unlike anything else I've ever been a part of, really can move a crowd with energy in the vocals alone.
I almost wrote a note about "There's Nobody Like Jesus - Live" sounding like it was recorded live, and then I clicked back to Spotify to get the title, and well… duh, I think you get it. It's slow and feeling - always an interesting moment in a concert like this. Lots of hands up in the air, if memory serves.
"Let The Church Say Amen" is a phrase I remember hearing quite a bit in the handful of Baptist Sunday services I attended down south. It's not just a way to finish a prayer, but a phrase of thanks. It's sacred, for sure, but that confirmation of faith is real a root of the church, even if they don't emphasize it. Sort of nice to hear it in a song of its very own. Of course, that's just my take on it.
For just two brief, solemn moments, the choir sings out "God Is On Our Side." It's slow and sweet and has a very classical sound. It's a great setup to the ending of this experience.
"The Promise" is full of words from God as we are brought up to believe in them. This is one of two ways a gospel show ends. The other is in a joyous uplifting of song at a fast pace and rocking out with the crowd. In this manner, however, you get a lot of closed eyes, raised arms, and strong voices lifting up. It's an intense, but cathartic moment to let go into music.
Added to My Playlist:
- "He Has A Plan For Me"
- "Let The Church Say Amen"
Interesting listening to a gospel album again. I haven't really sat through a whole session of one in a while, let alone been to church and into the message. I really did enjoy this a lot. Regardless of belief or stake you put into the words, someone can make you feel if they're really that good. Andrae and his choir are.