DISClaimer (4/22/09)

israelhoughton-one150It’s Gospel Music Week.

What better time to survey what’s newsy and happening in this Nashville-based genre? As you might expect, many of CCM’s hottest acts have current products in the marketplace.

You can’t escape the sheer sonic charisma of the new album by Israel Houghton. It is easily the Disc of the Day.

vota-vota150I don’t know who Vota is, but this trio captivated me with its disc debut and earned a DisCovery Award.

ISRAEL HOUGHTON/Just Wanna Say
Writer: Israel Houghton/Aaron Lindsey/Tommy Sims; Producer: Tommy Sims, Aaron Lindsey & Israel Houghton; Publisher: Integrity’s Praise/Sound of the New Breed/Warner-Tamerlane/Aaron Lindsey/Chi-Legacy, BMI/ASCAP; Integrity/Columbia (track)
—Perched at No. 1 on the Christian album chart this week is the solo debut from this lead singer of Israel & The New Breed. Titled The Power of One, it features this soulfully rocking single with an unmistakably hooky chorus and a track packed with percussion, shouted interjections, static sounds and claps. This is an ultra contemporary sound, co-produced by Nashville’s own Tommy Sims. On the album’s ballads, Israel’s soft tenor is a thing of shimmering beauty.

RONNIE MILSAP/How Great Thou Art
Writer: Stuart K. Hine; Producer: Rob Galbraith & Ronnie Milsap; Publisher: Manna, ASCAP; Star Song (track) (www.ronniemilsap.com)
—Country superstar Milsap has a new double CD called Then Sings My Soul that collects 24 gospel standards. The title is, of course, drawn from the lyrics of this chestnut. His reading of it is straightforward, with simple guitar-piano-percussion accompaniment, plus a chorale led by Bergen White. Other faves on the album include “Farther Along,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Amazing Grace,” “In the Garden,” “Peace in the Valley,” “Rock of Ages,” “Precious Memories” and “It Is No Secret,” plus the soul songs “People Get Ready” and “Stand By Me” and a reworking of the star’s hit “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life.”

MERCYME/Only Temporary
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; INO (track)
—MercyMe is currently on the Christian charts with its long-running album All That Is Within Me. But released earlier this month is a CD/DVD titled 10 that celebrates this tuneful pop/rock band’s first decade in the business. In addition to its hits, it includes this dynamite new audio track that wooshes straight into your brain and sticks there. The band is super tight, and the melody is undeniable. The DVD disc includes live performances and concept videos of all of the group’s best songs. A great value and highly recommended.

VOTA/Hard To Believe
Writer: Bryan Olesen/Case Maranville/Scott Rutz; Producer: Nathan Dantzler; Publisher: Magnificent/Integrity Media/MyDeas/Melodoso/S Acre, ASCAP; INO (track) (www.votaband.com)
—This rock trio issued its self-titled debut disc last fall, and this propulsive, electro-magnetic track is its first single. Think British new wave or classic Wham! and you’ll have the general idea.

CODY SCHULER & PINE MOUNTAIN RAILROAD/My Eyes Shall Be On Canaan’s Land
Writer: Cody Schuler; Producer: Cody Schuler & Pine Mountain Railroad; Publisher: Pine Mountain Railroad, BMI; Rural Rhythm (track) (www.codyschuler.com)
—This bluegrass ensemble was nominated for a Dove Award in the country category. The lead-off song on its Pickin,’ Praisin’ & Singin’ CD tells you why. The fiddle and banjo scamper along, the high lead tenor voice soars and the call-and-response quartet harmonies on the choruses are absolutely inspiring.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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