Friday, March 05, 2010

Myron Butler & Levi: Revealed...Live in Dallas

Myron Butler & Levi
Revealed…Live in Dallas
(release date: March 30, 2010)
EMI Gospel 2010
www.emigospel.com

Myron Butler is a singer, songwriter, and musician. Together with his vocal group Levi, he produces energy-packed urban praise and worship.

Revealed…Live in Dallas is Myron Butler and Levi’s latest CD, recorded in Butler's hometown. Lyrically, the album is all praise and worship, but musically, it operates at two ends of the sonic spectrum. At some points, including on the title track, electric guitars purr and squeal while keyboards and drums deliver dizzyingly polyrhyhmic riffs like Jon McLaughlin on an infinite loop. Other times, such as on “Greatest Love” and “Moving Closer,” the vocalists bathe their lyrics in an aromatic, softly sensuous soul-jazz vibe.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but the finest tracks on the album feature the guest soloists. “Just Can’t Live” pairs Butler with longtime friend and colleague Kirk Franklin on a driving performance that showcases the harmonic talent of Levi to a hard-hitting beat and chorus that contains hints of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” “Run to the Cross” is arguably the album’s most moving piece, with labelmate Smokie Norful turning up the emotional temperature as he imparts the religious significance of the cross like a preacher on Easter Sunday.

Butler turns Cyndi Lauper’s ‘80s smash “Time After Time” into a worship piece, and it works so well that one can only wonder why it hasn’t been made over sooner.

As with some of today’s live recordings, Revealed...Live in Dallas doesn’t reveal enough audience response to the music, and yet an audience is the extra band member that adds electricity to the live performance. Even if we can't hear them during the songs, however, the attendees applauded with abandon after each track.

P.S: Butler credits the late Thomas Whitfield of Detroit as an influence. So many gospel artists have emulated Whitfield, and so much of today’s contemporary sound can be traced back to his music, that it’s surprising more hasn’t been written about him. Thankfully, Whitfield left a wealth of recordings on the Sound of Gospel label from which we can enjoy his pioneering efforts. He blended gospel with jazz, soul and classical into a stew that gospel artists still feast on today.

Four of Five Stars

gPod Picks: “Run to the Cross,” “Just Can’t Live”

Review by Bob Marovich of The Black Gospel Blog

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