November 3rd, 2014

JJHair

Title: I See Victory

Artist: J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise

Label: Entertainment One

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: October 27, 2014

 

With the release of their 7th project, I See Victory, the Stellar award nominated J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise continue a trend of creating music that is uplifting, accessible, and energizing. Unlike their previous work, the theme for this album was selected long before any of the material was written.  Hairston explains, “Years ago, I heard a message Bishop Joby Brady (Potter’s House North of Dallas, TX) preached and it was just saying you have to see what you want before you can go after it. I see myself with the victory over everything so I’m going after it and I believe I can have it because I can see it and all of the songs revolve around that theme.” I See Victory includes several special guests like VaShawn Mitchell, Donnie McClurkin, and Karen Clark Sheard who help this dynamic group articulate their message that all things are possible with God.

The first single, “It Pushed Me,” is a laidback mid-tempo song that explains how difficult circumstances can lead to personal transformation and triumphant success. It begins in a light-hearted unison stating, “God gave me a vision of where I would be, but he didn’t show me what I’d go through on the journey.” During the chorus, the song progresses to three part harmony emphasizing how life’s problems “pushed me into my destiny.” The second single from the project, “Bless Me,” features the distinctive leading voice of Pastor Donnie McClurkin. It is a simple prayer evocative of the reverent hymn “Lord, I Hear of Showers of Blessings” (1860) as they both offer the humble plea, “Even me, Lord bless me.” By the end of the song, modulations, chord inversions, and increased volume indicate growing enthusiasm as the singers celebrate God’s blessings.

While the primary theme of this album is “victory,” I suggest that the album’s secondary theme focuses on the “greatness” of God. Indeed, through most of the selections included on I See Victory, Hairston is stating that victory is possible because of God’s greatness. Just perusing the song titles – “You’re Mighty,” “You Are Worthy,” “You Are Great,” “Awe of You” – offers a glimpse into the tone of this project. Several of these songs creatively use pre-existing musical and lyrical material to offer contemporary interpretations of age old messages. For instance, “You Are Great” directly quotes the popular hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” Featuring the misty and colorful voice of Deon Kipping, “You Are Great” is bold and triumphant with a pulsating lead guitar and emphatic drums that establish a driving rhythm while syncopated horns accent the piece.

I See Victory closes with a bang, rounded off by two more traditional styled numbers. “Good to Me” is a slower tempo song expressing gratitude to God while “The Blood Still Works” is a high energy piece inspired by African American Pentecostal church styled praise songs that remind listeners that Jesus has power to intervene in any situation. On this album, J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise offer straightforward, inspiring messages through a variety of songs that will surely rock the (church) house and the airwaves.

Reviewed by Raynetta Wiggins

Review Genre(s): Gospel Music and Spirituals


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