November 3rd, 2014


Title: Center of My Life

Artist: Nathan Best

Label: Higher Calling / Megawave

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: September 9, 2014


It is an established fact that in African and African derived cultures, many life decisions and life activities of the present moment are based on vivid reminiscence of the past. In his first solo contemporary gospel album, Center of My Life, Grammy-award winning vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Best (The O’Jays, Fairfield Four) comes forward with the musical fruits of his reflection on “some lessons that I thought would make me bitter, but instead it made me better, thanks to my relationship with God.” And so one hears him singing about his past life on the fifth track “God Forgave Me:” ‘I have done some things I am not proud… God forgave me for it and He gave me another chance.’ The same theme of regret for the past echoes from the tracks: “You’re So Good To Me” and “Where Would I Be.”

Indeed, Nathan sees his past as a kind of Pharaonic bondage from which God liberated him as is evident from the prime track, “Pharaoh,” that interweaves modern pop sound with a dramatic recitation of the story of the interlocution between Moses and God on the one hand, and Moses and Pharaoh on the other. The divine liberation from the hopelessness of bondage prompts songs of gratitude which becomes the focus of the track, “Thank You.” At a point this piece assumes the mien of gentle rap.

Nate titles the second track of his album “Nathan’s Symphony,” a veritable compact jazz ‘sinfonia’ with conspicuous piano feel leading to the album’s signature piece, “Center of My Life,” equally structured along the lines of jazz but standing mainly as a worship song. Surprisingly and without any alert, the fourth track, “Our Love Song,” shifts the emphasis from divine worship to romantic love. It was a special dedication to Nate’s beloved life partner “Sherry, my soul mate and best friend.” This is probably his way of connecting divine love to human love, the former operating powerfully in the latter within the context of marriage.

Center of My Life concludes with three pieces dedicated to spiritual and moral advice. “He’s Always There” is a call to look on and call upon the friend who is always there, Jesus. The track “Talking About My Jesus,” with its piano only accompaniment, is an admonition to turn from human beings back to Jesus who puts the straying on the right track. It is only in this way one can enjoy the blessing which God has in store for his children, as seen in the swinging final track, “God Has a Blessing,” featuring the St. Matthew’s Church Choir.

Reviewed by Jude Orakwe

Review Genre(s): Gospel Music and Spirituals


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