Long live love – Kirk Franklin (2019)
Have been waiting a long time for this one and it was totally worth it! When he released the first 90’s-influenced single “Love theory” in January, I couldn’t stop listening, and I still think it’s my favourite off the album. But there are many other gems here as well. As on previous albums, Kirk manages to combine genres and still stay true to the gospel sound. Even if there are only 10 songs, you get everything you would expect from a Kirk Franklin album. There are motown-esque soul tracks (#1 and #6), mid-tempo r’n’b (#4), epic ballads (#3 and #8), hip-hop influences (#7) and even a dixieland jam (end of #9). The track that stands out most to me though is #5, that starts off like a classic gospel, and then gets more polished with horns and strings, almost like “Why” from 2005. The album ends beautifully with an all acoustic track sung by only three women. The lyrics are thoughtful, some are about allowing God to do work in our lives that we may not understand at first; some about the situation in the world and the need of God’s help, and some about being undeserving but grateful for God’s grace and love. Overall, it’s another great Kirk album. The only thing you might miss is more extended solo parts from the singers. The sound of them together though, is as tight and soulful as always. There are no (credited) guest appearances either, but that’s not always necessary when you’ve got a bunch of good songs like this!
Flying – Cody Fry (2017)
It’s been a while since I found an album where every song is a good one, but this is definitely one of them. Somehow Cody Fry manages to fit in disco, electronic music, country rock, 80’s pop and epic orchestral elements in his sound, and it all works together beautifully. There is even a jazz ballad, #10 that could have been written in the mid 1900’s but still has a fresh sound to it. Lyric wise, there are some very cute love songs on here, but also the beautiful #7 and #8 about struggling with God and faith, and the thoughtful #13 about being willing to learn rather than speaking too much. I’m sure being based in Nashville has helped Cody with the quality of both the songwriting and the lyrics. The orchestra is present in every song, whether it’s full orchestra or just strings. It adds an organic touch to the tracks with an otherwise “polished” sound (like the disco strings in #11) as well as film-esque vibe to the ballads (listen to the chromatic Rhapsody in blue-influences in the end of #14). Overall, this is a bunch of enjoyable and well written songs!