Sunday Best Season 4 champion Amber Bullock releases her debut EP, Thank You via World Music Entertainment, the same label as winner Le’Andria Johnson. Where previous season winner Le’Andria Johnson’s debut EP (The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson) feels clunky despite the raw talent exhibited by the singer, Bullock’s debut Thank You comes over as a better executed effort.
Throughout the course of seven songs, Bullock always remains in strong voice, singing with the upmost conviction and vigor. That is not to say that Thank You is perfect because it is not, but the covers that Bullock sings by the likes of Walter Hawkins, Kurt Carr, J. Moss, Richard Smallwood, and Dorinda Clark-Cole seem suitable enough for Bullock’s powerful voice.
Thank You Lord is a sound way to open the EP finding Bullock in top-notch, soul-stirring form. While the overall arrangement and Bullock’s ad libs work well, the lack of that ‘live gospel’ feel might be the biggest quibble or argument against this cut. Another argument is the abrupt ending of the cut, despite repeated iterations of the vamp (“thank you lord for all you’ve done for me”). Regardless, Bullock does a sound job with the Walter Hawkins classic.
For Every Mountain contrasts the bombastic opener with the jazzy vibe of the Kurt Carr composition. The main complaint is that the track stays on one plane always ‘simmering’ but never quite reaches it full potential. In the same token, harmonized background vocals and Bullock’s compelling lead propel this track in intensity even where the instrumental arrangement itself never quite does.
We Must Praise may not be revolutionary, but Bullock, the supporting musicians, and the choir sure do perform the J. Moss song superbly. Bullock delivers the lyrics in such a spiritually enlightening fashion that listeners are sure to feel the raw emotion and ‘blessing.’
Where For Every Mountain may have missed reaching its potential, the intensity built throughout We Must Praise atones easily. If It Had Not Been For the Lord proceeds, a shade less enthralling than We Must Praise. Bullock sounds fine and nuanced for the most part, but the whole arrangement feels a bit too casual after such a thriller as We Must Praise.
How Great Is Our God finds Bullock at her vocal best, with a set of impressive nuances, ad libs, and histrionics to sell this cut. Richard Smallwood penned Secret Place is very compelling, yielding even more standout vocals from the gospel singer.
The support of the choir makes Secret Place all the better. The penultimate cut turns out to be more impressive than the more casual, less connecting A City Called Heaven, also penned by the Smallwood.
Overall, Thank You is a good start for Bullock. It will be interesting and a pleasure to hear the vocalist with solidly penned, original material when her full length effort materializes in 2012.