Creative, distinctive, self-assured and trendsetting.These are just a few of the myriad of adjectives attributed to Donald Lawrence, one of the most fascinating individuals currently recording Gospel music. Spanning nearly twenty years, Donald’s track record as a Gospel singer, songwriter, producer and director speaks for itself . His prolific, profound and infinitely personal compositions have set him apart as a special talent with an ambitious goal in mind for God’s music and ministry.
Ok, I’m done sounding as if I’m bringing him to the stage. This is my review of his 9th album ( I’m not including 2003′s” The Best of Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers: Restoring the Years” in the number and am counting 2006′s “Finale: Act One” and “Finale: Act Two” as one release), “YRM (Your Righteous Mind)” – which placed, this week, at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Charts.
Lawrence delivers a splendid musical offering with his new album – phenominal vocal arrangements coupled with dynamic musicianship. D.L.’s singers (known as the “The Co.“) excel on this project, but he also brought with him a nice ensemble of Gospel heavy-hitters; including Israel Houghton, Dorinda Clark Cole, Jason Nelson and Keith Staten (of Commissioned).
What shocked me, most , about the album were the several remakes of gospel standards, such as the late Bishop Walter Hawkins‘ “When the Battle Is Over” and Commissioned’s “Strange Land” I’m curious to see how my buddies in Oakland take this his rendition of the Hawkin’s classic, however he did the piece justice – in my opinion. As for the his version of the Commissioned song, I had to listen several times before casting my feeling (If you’ve ever listened to my show, “The Tinman Brown Project” – airs Monday – Friday 1-3PM PST and 4-6PM EST #ShamelessSelfPlug, you know that I am THEE biggest Fred Hammond fan, thus a huge Commissioned person.). Lawrence’s take of the ballad features Keith Staten and, Verity artist, Jason Nelson as well as boasting an INCREDIBLE accapella introduction.
With each reworking, D.L. applies his signature touch to the classic songs, all the while remaining true to their original sound. Another stand-out song (and I mean stand out, as in I was ironing a pair of pants, while listening, and stopped in mid- crease when I heard/was shocked by this:) is a cover of Chaka Khan‘s “Through the Fire” – by sisters, Tobbi and Tommi. Lastly, in the line of remakes. is a version of Daryl Colye’s “II Chronicles”, lead by Floyd Wilkinson. Midway through the album, you will come across a power sermonette rendered by Bishop Tudor Bismark. The Word leads into “The I AM Factor” – which has an interesting vamp to it.
The new single “Spiritual” is a good follow up to “YRM (Your Righteous Mind)” – which has been playing on airwaves since late last year.
Donald Lawrence continues in his lane of masterful production, arrangement and artistry like only he can.He knows what the gospel consumer wants – a classic sound with contemporary feel – and he delivers it with ease. Basically, “Your Righteous Mind” should be in your righteous iPod. #goodstuff