God, Love & Romance
Verity Gospel Music Group (2012)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.
Just as many male gospel singers credit Fred Hammond as their musical inspiration as female gospel singers cite Kim Burrell as theirs.
Burrell recently built an entire CD around the theme of love and walked away with a Stellar Award for her effort. Hammond now matches her love CD and raises her one disc in God, Love & Romance. His 12th solo project is a two-CD tour de force of odes to love and relationships in all their phases: euphoria, attraction, comfort, frustration, heartache, repair, and return.
Of course, there are more than a few songs on God, Love & Romance dedicated to love of the Most High. As Hammond exhorts on “Let’s Take a Minute,” “the Savior’s got to get His,” and He does. “You Never Turned,” the lovely ballad “Amazing Love,” “Better Love,” and the current single, “I Feel Good” all have inspirational messages, and disc two is almost completely comprised of gospel music. Even the clearly secular love songs on the set have sufficient references to God and religion to please the staunchest of sacred-secular separatists.
Arguably stronger than the lyrical content is the musical magic Hammond weaves throughout. God, Love & Romance is quintessential twenty-first century Fred Hammond, who has the uncanny ability to innovate within the urban adult contemporary tradition while keeping his music grounded in the gospel music canon. One hears the beautiful quiet-storm ballad, “Face It All” or the bracing “I Am Not Alone” and “I Feel Good,” and you recognize instantly the Hammond touch. The musicianship is outstanding as is the production, and Hammond's husky, resonant baritone is as warm and embracing as the subject matter.
Spoken word mini-plays are peppered between several of the tracks. I know why Hammond included them, but some are a little too melodramatic or ephemeral for my taste, and I was happy for the next song to begin.
Fred Hammond has wanted to make God, Love & Romance for several years, and I am glad he persisted. The collection is packed with wonderful selections suitable for weddings and worship teams alike.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “I Feel Good,” “Easier,” “Amazing Love.”