FOREVER FORWARD: All Is Well (Label:

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Forever Forward are a New York inspirational ensemble; they prefer not to describe themselves as a gospel group because their founders – Derek Gibbs and Kevin Brightman – want their music to be genre-denying and to appeal right across the faiths. Their aim is to use music to encourage positivity and optimism and whether it manages to lead listeners to a new state of consciousness (another of the duo’s goals) is very much down to the mindset and receptivity of each particular listener. That said, ‘All Is Well’ is very much in the classic gospel tradition. The songs offer gospel’s traditional reassurances; the searing solos, the sureness of the harmonies and the clarity of Brightman’s piano are in a direct line back to the storefront churches of the old South. In some ways the best point of reference is to the Sounds Of Blackness and maybe their epic ‘Journey Of A Drum’ album. Key difference, though, is that the Forever Forward album lacks one big, big song… but given the band’s mission statement maybe that’s the whole point. The album is clearly meant to be listened to from start to finish and not cherry picked via the remote button; that idea of creating a lasting, overall mood and ambience is borne out with the reprise of the opening song ‘All Is Well’ in the form of a relaxed guitar solo at the end and the repetition of the songs ‘Peace Be Still’ and ‘Running Over’. The song with most immediate appeal, however, is the jaunty ‘God Always Says Yes’. It features a strong melody which allows soloist Tisha Hunter to shine while on the more strident ‘Experience’, Brightman’s old school piano betrays his roots too. Gospel fans will find lots here to identify with and enjoy but, maybe more importantly, those less committed will find inspiration too … without the message being too in-your-face.
(BB) 3/5