Prime Cuts: Jesus It is You, Psalm 23, That's Why God
Prime Cuts: 4.75/5
"Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir..." Though these are the opening words of this new project, they are by no means unfamiliar. Rather, avid fans will remember that this is the opening line of countless Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's albums. Just as predictable as the opening line is, there are a couple of things you can always count on when you hear an album by this musical troupe. First, you can always expect opulence and majesty. Being a 400-voice choir, you can be assured to have a foretaste of heaven when they raise their praises in unison to Jesus.
Second, unlike most gospel choirs that would often be so mesmerised by their own voices that they take on a life of their own, forgetting the original tune that they were singing, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir does not. Rather, with a commitment to the song's melody, they allow their ad libs to be constrained and measured. In this sense, this New York-based choir has a way of enhancing the song's melodic structure rather than diffuse it.
"I Am reminded" is an eleven-track set that marks the legendary 40+ year-old ensemble's 30th album. The eclectic collection of worship anthems features dynamic solos from soulful singer, Nicole Binion, who has recorded with the choir in the past; Indonesian worship leader, Sidney Mohede, who has written songs for Israel & New Breed; and the duo of Shane & Shane, who bring their warm and engaging harmonies to the live session. Akin to many of their preceding albums, there is combination of covers and originals.
As far as covers are concerned, Sidney Mohede's "Jesus It is You" is the album's spotlight. Parceling out appreciation and thanks to Jesus from hanging our sins on "the arms of Calvary" to providing food on our table, "Jesus It is You" is both consummate and specific. Rather than going for the bigger names in worship music, the team has decided to go for a cover of BJ Putnam's 2013's "Sing a New Song," veneering it with an august choral beauty. Karen Rampersad then brings us into some heavenly worship by offering a soaring rendition of Walter Hawkins' churchy 1990 classic, "Thank You."
Of the new songs, three of them are lyrically mined from the Psalms. Despite the countless permutations of songs on Psalm 23 itself, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's new offering has a way of presenting the Shepherd in three dimensional vividness. Psalm 150 is a full-forced choir-led praise that has been the hallmark sound of the team, while Psalm 34 is more pedestrian. "That's Why God" begins with some heat pulling strings and piano before leading us into a gorgeous exposition of why Christ had to come to earth.
If you like the trademark sounds of Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir consisting of a fully empowered choir and some remarkable sky-soaring leads, "I Am Reminded" doesn't disappoint.