BERNARD: Kingdom Of Love (Label: Cross Town)

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BERNARD: Kingdom Of Love

Bernard (Stevenson) is a respected indie soul and gospel performer and so confident is he of his abilities that he’s written, produced and arranged all 13 songs on this new album, and generally speaking he’s done a good job. He has a fine soul voice and the songs he’s come up with aren’t traditional in-your-face-pulpit-thumping gospel affairs. They’re that special kind of modern gospel music which non-believers can readily connect with and, taken out of context, the love and commitment they speak of could so easily apply to secular situations. More, modern soul dancers who like to look for the rarer, more esoteric groove could do worse than investigate the opener, ‘Everybody’. The cut has crisp, thumping beats and lovely harmonic chorus. The overall feel reminds me of the Oliver Cheetham revival of ‘Never Too Much’ from a few years back. ‘Your Love’ also offers dance floor beats but it’s possibly too disjointed to find favour with the modern soul crew. This album’s most enduring moments, though, are the ballads of which ‘Those Without’ is probably the best. Bernard’s voice has a genuine warmth that reminds me of the late Al Wilson. Hear it to good effect too on the Luther Vandross-flavoured ‘They’re Lookin’ For Your Love’. Elsewhere the flute on ‘Somethin’ More’ gives it a seventies feel, while the synth intro to the LP’s title cut should call to mind classics from the SOS Band and Loose Ends. ‘Kingdom Of Love’ is a decent, if unspectacular modern gospel set and is available via the usual internet outlets.
(BB) 3/5