In the States Mary Mary are gospel superstars; in the UK and Europe they’re best known for the track ‘Shackles’ – a powerful song that can still excite and stimulate dancers and I often wonder if said rug cutters understand the significance and message of the song. Therein, I think, lies the appeal of the sisters; their music works on all kinds of levels. If you want spiritual encouragement and support – it’s there in abundance; if you just want quality modern soul music (danceable and reflective) – there’s plenty of that too, because that’s the sound that the girls wrap their messages in and this new Sony long player epitomises that knack.
Take the cut that most commentators are agreeing is the LP’s standout, ‘Survive’. It’s a beautifully sung melodic mid-tempo item which will offer solace to believers and secularists alike. There’s so much to like about it that you’ll probably keep it on repeat and with so much conviction in the delivery even non-believers will find optimism. If you want to dance to praise the Lord or just to have a good time, then ‘Walking’ will fit the bill. It’s nowhere near as energized as ‘Shackles’ but it’s sophisticated beats are perfect for the modern soul room. The album’s title cut is much more in your face – it’s a kind of chant (might remind you of those US marines training songs) that crashes and bangs with a real positive energy. Subtle it isn’t.
However, if it is subtlety and complexity you’re after, there’s plenty here. ‘It Is Well’ is a lovely ballad while ‘Homecoming Glory’ is folksy with an almost country flavoured guitar running throughout. It’s totally different to to the Impressions’ ‘People Get Ready’ but there’s a connection in the feel and the message and like that Mayfield classic it proves how gospel music can reach out and have a broader appeal. May Mary are spreading the message and spreading it beautifully.