Prime Cuts: His Ways, Every Tribe, Pour My Praise on You
Overall Grade: 4.25/5
2019 is a landmark year for Donnie McClurkin. Not only is McClurkin turning 60, this is also the year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of his chart-topping sophomore album, "Live in London and More...," which will comprise a two-night celebration concert and live recording in London. Never one to let age or past success domesticate him, this two time Grammy Award winner has released his brand new album "A Different Song." This album, his third for RCA Inspirational Records and eighth album overall, features three covers and eight originals coming from the pen of McClurkin himself. Rivalled by perhaps his "Duets" album, "A Different Song" easily ranks as McClurkin's best effort. Maybe it's the years, but there is a theological maturity in these songs. While many of his younger peers may offer the same praises to God, but with McClurkin's worship, there is a gravitas to it. This can only come after seasons of wrestling with God through suffering and pain.
McClurkin opens the album on a note of familiarity. In fact, the first two cuts are nods from the past. McClurkin turns Michael O'Shield's old favorite "I Will Bless the Lord" into a rousing Gospel fest quipped with the backing of a full-fledged choir. Then McClurkin indulges us with more 90s praise and worship with a medley starting with Robin Mark's "Days of Elijah" segueing into a couple of Chris Tomlin's standards ("How Great is Our God" and "Our God") before closing with Darius Paulk's "Nobody Greater." Needless to say, this medley, which clocks in at over nine minutes, is nothing but explosive worship. Rev. Don Johnson's "I Won't Complain" is the final in this trio of covers. Rather than repeat the same high power church formula, here McClurkin takes us back into the doo-wop days of the 50s by offering a smoking jazzy version of "I Won't Complain."
McClurkin doesn't just get stymied in the past; rather, he expresses his continued vision for the future in the powerful "Every Tribe." Sounding like a hymn Charles Wesley would be proud of, "Every Tribe" expresses God's heart for the nations in ways that are thoughtful and grandiose. The best track amongst the McClurkin originals is the ballad "His Ways." The combined piano-driven melody and the Scripturally-soaked words (about trusting God even in the midst of sufferings) make this track a must-hear. Though no song matches the sublimity of "His Ways," "There is God" has an inviting chorus that makes us want to sing along with him. While "All to the Glory of God" may not charter new ground, the song is to be noted for the live energetic worship.
It's not difficult to see why "Pour My Praise on You" has been lifted as one of the album's singles. The melody has a way of drawing us in to worship the Lord. While the #1 single "Not Yet" is the most autobiographical. In the light of McClurkin turning 60, he sings with all conviction and verve that his ministry has yet to come to a halt. And with songs so good, we can't help but agree when McClurkin sings: "I can't die right now (die right now), I got work to do (I got work to do)..."