JOE RUSSELL: Give Him All The Praise (Label: Joe Russell)

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JOE RUSSELL: Give Him All The Praise

Here’s a decent indie gospel album that’s bedevilled (if I may use that term in this context) by the problems that lots of similar albums are afflicted with. That’s to say budgetary constraints mean under-production while self-financed, vanity recording leads to lack of control and the self-belief in the artist that everything he/she lays down is good. Both problems are evident throughout this 14 tracker though when Russell overcomes the problems/restrictions the results are excellent – chiefly because the man has a great soul voice. At times it has the feel of the great Lou Rawls – velvety, laid back and laconic; in other places the vocal has the edgy aggression of Ali Oli Woodson. Hear both sides of Joe Russell on the big opener ‘He Will Be Right There’. It’s a great, brash, swinging soul tune with a lot going on. There’s a pleasing melody, great backing vocals and a catchy chorus… certainly worth checking. ‘I Give Him All The Praise’ is more than pleasant too – an insidious slowie, while the low level production on ‘Talking ‘Bout Jesus’ is more than compensated for by Russell’s enthusiasm and conviction. Elsewhere there’s enough to encourage believers to believe a little bit more, but even they must cringe at the stuttery, almost primitive Cassio sounds of ‘He’s So Amazing’ and the nursery rhyme/reggae hybrid that is ‘Peace And Harmony’. On those you’ll hear what I mean about lack of outside control and nowhere is the under-production more obvious than on the LP’s only cover – a version of ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’. Russell’s vocal attack is superb but the thin synth-led backing track is no match for the majesty of the original MFSB one. He’s a brave man to even attempt it, but then that’s the nature of these albums. Russell and gospel artists like him, believe – and believe in what they doing – and their conviction should be applauded. You can check this one out at the usual soul internet outlets.
(BB) 3/5