Lowell Pye: Finally

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Posted September 13, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

lowellpye00Men of Standard member steps out on his own; encircles a 50/50 debut containing standouts and album filler

Singing with urban gospel trio Men of Standard and getting his career beginnings in John P. Kee’s choir, Lowell Pye has become an identifiable presence in the gospel arena and never getting the puffed up ego of gospel’s chitlin’ circuit performers since he’s never reluctant in turning down an appearance on other projects. Consider the fact that he has a love for singing and has a mammoth-size Marvin Winans-inspired voice that eloquently fits his gospel habits. It’s virtually impossible to hear Pye singing anything else but the praises of God. While getting comfy on Asaph Ward’s new music label Miralex, he has the distinctive opportunity to record his first-ever solo project, Finally, and to step away from the background to earn his own set of wings for his own individual musical sound. With Ward overseeing the album’s journey, Pye gets some assistance from other contributors like Deitrick Haddon, PJ Morton and Marcus Devine.

Ward has proven over time to be a delicate engineer and a daredevil on the synths and arrangements. Having said that, Ward’s painstaking challenge over the years is to pump out exceptional compositions. Finally unveils Ward struggling once more at developing a balance of bold experimental sharp turns and accessible pop-ready standards. He only presents five cuts, but his big risks can be indigestible at times. Of his better contributions, “He’ll Make a Way” (an updated funky mix on the familiar congregational standard) allows Pye to easily collaborate with the hefty voices of Marvin Winans and Rance Allen. Then there’s “Keep Pressing;” a feel-good groove bearing identical traits of John P. Kee. His production skill is still vibrant in power and execution, perfectly exhibited on the Commissioned remake of “Running Back to You.” Maybe he wanted to pump more personality into the offerings or had a fear that Pye’s first attempt at a solo album was still considered a premature move, but it’s obvious that Ward is out of pocket on this foray. Songs like the title cut and “I Wanna Know,” which opens the album, are far from being coined “the album’s good stuff” with its puzzling scripture abrasions and woeful crossover lyrics abrasions. Consider the bubble gum campiness of “I Wanna Know” (“I wanna know what makes you smile/I wanna know what makes you happy”).

Finally has its share of good moments. Lowell gets soulfully churchy on the House of Blues closer “Good to Me” and latches easily to PJ Morton’s delicious inspirational number “Better.” But the mistakes are quick to locate. Even with the presence of Sheri Jones-Moffett (the voice behind Donald Lawrence’s successful gospel single “Encourage Yourself”) on “Over” couldn’t rescue the never-ending roller-coaster loops of its repetitious vamp and its train wreck closing modulations. For a voice as skilled as Lowell, it isn’t that hard to hear and identify something wacked up encircling him.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 27 Jul 2010
  • Label: Miralex/Fontana
  • Producers:  Asaph A. Ward, Deitrick Haddon, Chip Dixon, PJ Morton, Marcus Devine
  • Track Favs: Good to Me, Running Back to You, Better, He’ll Make a Way

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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