Something I've always been kind of fascinated with, musically, is the difference between worship music, spiritual music, and gospel music. Gospel just has this more upbeat, come together, feel-good approach to it. It's praise in a party form. Just something I've come to observe over the years. No artist really ever gets pegged in one sub-genre of religious music or another, they just make the music happen.
Anywhos, this album is said to blend classicism, of traditional gospel and 'retro soul grooves'. Apparently we're in for a an uplifting experience as well, according to his site's bio!
Let's roll into the track-by-track.
The title track, "YRM (Your Righteous Mind)," kicks us off. Immediately, he's getting the party started with a brass section and kickin' choir backing him up. I was in a gospel choir in college for a year, and I have a feeling I'll be re-living some of that time tonight. He's sort of speaking over and out to the crowd as that choir sings out behind him.
The second track is the one nominated, and here's a lyric video the official vevo released for it ("Spiritual"):
"Not Making Sense, Making Faith" has this bit of an R&B feel to it. The choir whispers behind a finally singing Donald. This is one of those song where everyone's standing their with their eyes closed, absorbing how they feel about the music. It's actually kind of an interesting concept of a song, all about living by faith, especially when you don't know, which is always an interesting topic.
"We gonna take you back to the 80's!" is how "When the Battle Is Over" starts. Honestly, if this is what the 80's sounded like for gospel, they've never moved beyond that. It's a good party praise song though, with Donald introducing individual singers and giving them a great spotlight in front of what is recorded to sound like a lively crowd. It's a great feel-good number though.
Bishop Tudor Bismark opens "The "I Am" Factor (featuring Bishop Tudor Bismark)" with a sermon. If you've never heard it before "I Am" is the name of God. There's actually this cool little reading I've seen before that says to remember that the Lord is not "I Was" or "I Will Be," he is "I Am," so seize the day and be who you are. It was actually pretty great to hear a sort-of reminder of that.
The next number is actually where the song, "The "I Am" Factor" begins. It kind of puts the sermon to music in a way. This is a little more about you as a person saying it and developing self-confidence, more so than the meaning of the name. Still cool, just doesn't hit as hard.
"Through the Fire" slows things down, "remaking a classic" (a lot fo these are technically covers, but it's how this genre works). It almost comes across as a love song in a way, because it is between two people, but I think it's more on how people can effect each other. It's actually a pretty groovy number.
Keith Staten and Jason Nelson are featured with the company in "Strange Land." We hear this choir sing a brief opening a cappella at the beginning, then these two voices come in, echoing each other, about the hope that we can have. Musically, it's not fantastic, as the melodies are just a little too random to make sense in a full song form. It does, however, provide that message that we were promised from the beginning. The two featured singers bring it home in the end as well, packing the power needed.
"Il Chronicles" is much, much slower than the rest. The vocals are trailed out and done so very slowly. The choir doesn't even join him and the very slight instrumental accompaniment until about 2:30. Then the power builds up as he is singing out more and more. But no, the beat stays the same, even when an actual drum beat is added. I'm not complaining - it works for the song completely. Pouring out your heart most definitely has its place here.
The next track, "Second Wind Intro" starts with a personal reflection, with a very down-to-earth tone, just discussing with people. Honestly, the voices clapping and cheering could have been done without, and it would have hit home even more.
The song itself is "Second Wind." Right from the start there's a more hopeful tone to the music. The chords are major and uplifting. It's about self-honesty and understanding yourself more. Again, it's also about keeping faith, even in the times of doubt. I do have to say, for this album as a whole, I like that most of the songs sound like they have a great live band with them.
Israel Houghton is featured on the next track, "We Agree," which is a preaching song. It does this awesome job of bringing everyone together though, through testimony. I went to school in the south, and you heard these kind of things pretty regularly. I have to say, it never gets old for some reason.
"Restoring the Years" is the beginning of the wrap up, as the next song is a reprise. It's a gentle song driving all the points of God's love. It, again, keeps things fairly simple. The message is what's important. The words are broken up into pretty staccato measures, but it works.
Finally, "We Agree (Reprise)" closes us out. It's a lot of gentle singing and improv of lyrics. It's that point in the show where everyone is on their feet singing out and praising. The lyrics are just incredibly repetitive and simple so that everyone there can be a part of it. It's a perfect end to a great time.
This album achieved everything a gospel album and show should - it was very impressive. it brought messages that were uplifting and perfect fits for what was needed. The music was classic gospel, and the voices were inspiring. Really, a very nice job as a whole.