Renowned pastor and musician Marvin Winans delivers a star-studded compilation with 2012’s Marvin Winans Presents: The Praise & Worship Experience (due June 26th). The compilation is solidly crafted, featuring plenty of spiritually uplifting performances. While Winans appears on many cuts, he sometimes serves capacity as ‘host’ or songwriter.
“Draw Me Close/Thy Will Be Done” opens with a spiritually, calming quality. Winans handles lead vocals here as a soloist accompanied by piano. After finishing “Draw Me Close,” the transition to “Thy Will Be Done” is marked by full fruition of the production, which includes lovely choral contributions on the line “…thy will be done…in me…”
“Glory to God” features Don Moen on lead vocals. Moen sings solidly, though perhaps too ‘casually’ at times. The initial key change, additionally, feels somewhat anti-climatic. The second key change coupled with Winans’s entrance delivers more vigor. Production, regardless, is capable with its funk guitar, horns and strings.
“If My People” finds Winans playing the role of ministering ‘encouragement’ while Michon Young and Renne Thomas handle solo roles. The production begins with restraint though towards the end, Thomas’s soaring vocals intensify the cut. “Eyes on You,” led by Tymara Spears, is up-tempo, contrasting the previous cut. Choir-driven, the chorus highlights the title-line. Spears’s lead soars courageously while the chorus uplifts highly vamping “look to Jesus…”
“For I Have Heard Your Cry,” featuring Randy Short and Marvin Sapp steals the show. The chorus ‘lifts up‘ the lines “…For I have heard your cry/I have seen your tears/ I will add to your days years…” Winans asserts his presence delivering superb vocal ad libs and nuances. Sapp plays ‘valedictorian,’ delivering the strongest performance.
“Hiding Place,” cedes no momentum, featuring a captivating performance from Darryl Pass. Pass ‘barely breaks a sweat’ initially, but progressively compels and commands vocally. Pacing is a strong suit as “Hiding Place” ascends from a relaxed, six-eight cut to a more rousing affair. “Faithful” proceeds, opting for reverence and evolving progressively in intensity. Winan’s entrance at circa the 2:00 mark propels this ‘transformation’ given his soulful grit, characteristic of ‘church.’
“Influence My Heart” provides a contrasting sound, featuring operatic singers Jacqueline Echols and Roderick Dixon. The results are strong, as the cut delivers overt-classical approaches (strings, wide vibrato and restraint), transforming by the end into an operatic-gospel interpretation of “Amazing Grace.”
“That’s the Love of God,” a mid-tempo cut including horns and clever harmonic scheme, features a strong Mary Mary. Bishop Paul S. Morton guests on the epic “Reach Out and Touch Him,” a seven-minute plus cut. Despite length, some unrequited, emotionally musical moments are conveyed.
“The Lord Is With Me” is an up-tempo, traditional gospel cut. Adrian “Agee” Smith leads the chorus with unrequited passion and praise. “Just Another Day” further exemplifies the ‘traditional gospel’ cut at its best, featuring Marvin Winans, Delores “Mom” Winans, and Pastor Donnie McClurkin each performing the classic supported by organ.
“Church Medley” proves to be nothing short of ‘classic,’ finding Winans and company covering classics “What Do You Want The Lord To Say,” “Just a Little While To Stay Here,” and “After Awhile It Will Be Over” (the latter arguably the strongest). A reprise of “Glory to God” closes the compilation.
Overall, The Praise and Worship Experience is filled with some superb gospel performances. Winans and team assemble a strong compilation with no misses that will undoubtedly ‘bless’ its audience.