Thursday, July 14, 2011
Spirit 2 Spirit - You Better Get Ready
You Better Get Ready
Tate Music Group 2011
Dubbed the “Earth, Wind and Fire of Gospel,” Spirit 2 Spirit is led by brothers Michael and Denny Jenkins. Together with a crew of singers and musicians that provide playful and funky arrangements, the DC ensemble certainly lives up to its billing.
The group’s provenance goes back further than EWF. Michael and Denny’s father, the late Thomas Jenkins, organized, managed and sang with the Mighty Southern Echoes of Washington, DC. The brothers even had a chance to play for the quartet before it retired in 1999, after nearly a half century on the gospel highway. The brothers decided to maintain the group's spiritual legacy by forming Spirit 2 Spirit.
The front cover of the group’s new album, You Better Get Ready, is a depiction of the Rapture: people being lifted skyward from a steel and metal city that looks a little like downtown Detroit. The End of Days hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the album’s lyric theme, a theme expressed directly on tracks such as “Never Give Up,” “Friend,” “Right Road,” and explicitly on the title track. On “Never Give Up,” Spirit 2 Spirit launches into the high, tight 70s soul harmonies of the Violinaires and Esquires as they declare “change is coming…get right and see what faith brings.”
In addition to EWF, the Spirit 2 Spirit band interjects techniques seemingly ripped from the songbooks of Issac Hayes, Stevie Wonder and Parliament on songs about thanksgiving, redemption, love and encouragement. The keyboard programming of the Jenkins brothers as well as Curtis Day is largely responsible for the old-school 70s soul sound, serving as a synthesized brass and string section. An extended version of “Let’s Pray” features Michael’s thumping bass. Check out “Robe,” a funky adaptation of “All God’s Children Got Shoes.”
Spirit 2 Spirit is a group that enjoys what it is doing, delights in challenging the gospel norm musically, and I’ll bet they are fun to watch live.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “Never Give Up,” “Robe.”