Motown Gospel (release date: August 6, 2013)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
Set for release tomorrow, Greater Than is Tyrone “Tye” Tribbett’s fifth full-length album but his first for Motown Gospel (formerly EMI Gospel), which signed him to its star-packed roster several months ago.
Recorded live in churches in Los Angeles and Sunrise, Florida, Greater Than is one-half quintessential Tribbett: fist-pumping power praise from the lithe, gymnastic singer and his team of vocalists and musicians. The other half exposes a more introspective and melodic side of the artist, as he fashions P&W songs with a musical complexity that almost defies definition.
Songs such as the opening “Nobody” and “You Are Everything” are vertical praisers shot like a cannonball upward, and the spirited “Stayed On You” borrows riffs from George Harrison’s hit, “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You.” “He Turned It” is revival-tent gospel, Tribbett style.
But if the current single, “If He Did It Before…Same God,” is more typical of the artist’s energetic, congregation-engaging music, songs such as “Beauty for Ashes” and “Better” are meditative, with atypical song construction and sophisticated choral harmonies from the nine background vocalists.
The omnipresent Zacardi Cortez joins Tribbett on the title track, adding his trademark grit to this praise litany, and KJ Scriven cameos on “What Can I Do,” one of the passionate and hypnotic P&W tracks that occupies the middle section of the CD.
As lifetime achievement awards are bestowed on contemporary gospel innovators such as John P. Kee, Pastor Hezekiah Walker, and Donnie McClurkin, and Kirk Franklin gets props as an industry veteran, the question becomes: who is the face of tomorrow's gospel music? While Walker, Franklin, Kee, and McClurkin remain very much a part of today’s gospel music scene, artists such as Deitrick Haddon and Tye Tribbett are emerging as the newest innovators in a genre at once friendly to, and suspicious of, the new.
Not so much arriving as exploding on the gospel scene in 2004 with his debut, Life, Tye Tribbett is a sensory kaleidoscope of color, sound, and motion. However, with Greater Than, Tribbett and his vocalists and musicians communicate to millennial worshipers in two musical languages: ebullient and restrained. Thus, even those of us who straddle the fence between Boomer and Gen X find it easy to become engrossed in the rhythm and praise.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Greater Than,” “He Turned It.”