Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stephen Hurd - O That Men Would Worship

Stephen Hurd
O That Men Would Worship
Hurd the Word (Release date: March 20, 2012)

By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.

O That Men Would Worship is urban P&W minister Stephen Hurd’s sixth CD but his first for his own label, Hurd the Word.

The album is more than an assembly of songs. It represents Hurd’s attempt to encourage more men to embrace the act of worship. “My goal,” Hurd says, “is to get men, and especially men of color, to realize that worship is not a feminine sport. I think when men see other men worship, it gives them freedom to worship without feeling emasculated.”

There’s nothing emasculating on O That Men Would Worship. Recorded at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where Hurd is minister of music, the album features Jason Nelson, Anthony Evans and Minister Deonte Gray. It also features a male sextet that, on the concluding track, “Victory,” forms complex harmonies in the style of Take 6. It would have been great to hear more of them on the project. The only females in front of the microphones belong to the mixed vocal group Extol, which backs Hurd & Company on many of the selections.

The songs range from energetic (“Let’s Celebrate”) to balladic (the very fine “Grace”) to quintessentially urban P&W with its uncomplicated, feel-good vibe (“When I Worship,” “It’s Working For Your Good”). The unifying strand is the incitement to worship but also to let the healing begin. On “The Healing Prayer” and “Healed by the Power,” Hurd transforms the live recording program into a chance to free the male participants from the shackles of past hurts and empower them to “make a difference wherever your feet go.”

The apex of the program is “You Are Holy,” a beautiful P&W piece suited to Sunday worship service.  The title track is similarly gentle, written as a hymn in lyric structure and melodic content.

Although it is a good chance that Stephen Hurd was preaching to the converted at the live recording, O That Men Would Worship has plenty of testosterone to fulfill Hurd’s objective among the larger listening audience.

Four of Five Stars

Picks: “You Are Holy”

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