Prime Cuts: Just to Know Him, Hide Me From the Rain, War
After carrying the torch for 20 albums or more, the Rev. Clay Evans finally passed the baton to Charles Jenkins in 2010. At the mere age of 36 then, Jenkins and the Fellowship Chicago released "The Best of Both Worlds" in 2012. Scoring their first #1 record since 1996, Jenkins and his choir etched an indelible mark on the charts with the release of the magniloquent ballad "Awesome." The hit song led them to become recipients of five stellar awards. After all the overwhelming meteoric success, it is indeed a preposterous task for a follow-up project to match such a lofty standard set by "The Best of Both Worlds." Three years down the road, we are finally greeted with "Any Given Sunday."
"Any Given Sunday" as the titular hints is a 13 track album made up of worship songs recorded for the service of the church. Recorded live, the recording boasts a sardined packed list of vocalists including the aforementioned Rev. Clay Evans, John P. Kee, Beverly Crawford, Byron Cage, Jonathan McReynolds, Sean Hodo, Kevin Vasser, Tanesha Jefferson and the new Inspired People recording artist Donishisa Ballard. The album charges out on an explosive note with the full choir sound of the thumping "I'm Blessed." The song is a tribute to the Fellowship Chicago's founder Rev. Clay Evans. And to make the tribute even more poignant, there are even snippets of the Reverend's sermon interweaved with the song.
"War," the album's lead single, is a standout. With a New Orleans brass band-inspired militant chant that recalls those old Godly spirituals, "War" is an open call-to-action to plunder Satan and his strongholds. And listening to this song is like being in the boxing ring with Satan and Jesus; you can't help but feel the sweat, the excitement, and the inexpressible joy of Jesus' sweeping punches. "Just to Know Him," "Hide Me from the Rain," and "He is God" are a triumvirate of ballads that aim for the heart. Particularly of note is the orchestra-driven "Hide Me from the Rain" which features Jenkins at his crooning best; it has a way of gripping our full-attention with his emotionally rich nuances.
Asa Elliott joins Jenkins on the finger snapping "Dance;" the soothing Ne-Yo smoothness that drives the melodic flow of the song could easily make this a hit in the making. However, the album is let down with three back-to-back interludes in the middle of the album. In a live setting such interludes may work, but on disc, such interludes become an exercise of tedium. Nevertheless, despite the quibbles, "Any Given Sunday" is a treat for those who don't want worship music to end on Sundays. With a project like this, we can dance, holler, and sing unto Jesus every day of the week.
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