Yolanda Adams - Believe

This is Yolanda Adams seventh album since the start of her recording career in 1987, her fourth for Elektra Records. Marketed as a Gospel singer, or Inspirational, the term more widely used in recent years to make singing about God or The Higher Love more palatable to the masses. To be pedantic not using the word Gospel is right as most of the tracks on this album, musically speaking follow contemporary soul / R&B formats. Also Adams voice is more akin to say Natalie Cole than singers like Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples or Adam's contemporary Ann Nesby all of who have more full bodied Gospel voices.

Production duties are shared by six outfits, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Kevin Bond, Shep Crawford, Mike City, Warren "Baby Dubb" Campbell and Buster. Jam & Lewis and Kevin Bond get the lions share with three tracks apiece, their respective production techniques vary greatly. The Kevin Bond tracks "Thank You", "Only If God Says Yes" and "Since The Last Time I Saw You" completely shun modern studio techniques and actually employ real instruments such as church organs, acoustic piano and lust string arrangements and are easily the best performances on the album. Jam & Lewis' three efforts "Never Give Up", "I'm Gonna Be Ready" and "I'm Thankful" featuring a rap by T Bone (yes there had to be at least one rap didn't there) are state of the art modern soul records as you might expect from a duo who pioneered the sounds so familiar to many,

"Fo' Sho" produced by Shep Crawford and featuring Karen Clarke Sheard of the Clark Sisters is very Stevie Wonderesque. Unfortunately the same producers "I Gotta Believe" is one of those anthemic type Cola advert tracks. And talking of Stevie, "Darling Girl" produced by Buster about Yolanda's baby daughter is the same subject matter as his "Isn't She Lovely" and just manages to stay on the right side of twee.

This is a very strong album that in most of the tracks features music that is amongst the best in contemporary Black American Music, but the Christian message contained in the lyrics will unfortunately prevent it reaching the wider audience it deserves.

Derek McCann

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