October 1st, 2012
Title: God’s Been There
Artist: The Wardlaw Brothers
Label: TWB Records
Release date: May 2012
The Wardlaw Brothers (TWB), a new gospel group consisting of five brothers from Vidalia, Georgia, bring a new R&B sound to the gospel music scene. Their style is reminiscent of such notable vocal groups as Boyz II Men and Take 6, both named by TWB as important musical influences. But certainly the Wardlaws have their own original sound, one which can only be created by brothers who grew up singing together in a household with a shared sense of faith.
The brothers—Carl Anthony “Tony,” Martin Luther “Lute,” “Jamie” Cornelius, Carl III “Carlo,” and Rodney Allen “Baby Boy”—are the sons of Rev. Carl Waldlaw, Jr., who showed them the importance of the ministry and daily worship in their lives. They’ve chosen music worship as a way to express their belief in God, and now it’s time for us to recount their musical journey in the gospel music industry.
God’s Been There is full of TWB’s wonderful harmonies and spiritual stories that convey to listeners the depth of their Christian belief. For this album, the group hired Grammy Award–winning producer Cedric Thompson and Dove Award–winning producer Antonio Neal, who shared production duties with Martin Luther Wardlaw, the group’s lead vocalist.
The opening song, “Get Ready,” calls attention to the beginning of musical worship. With its a cappella jazz/gospel flavor, “Thank You” showcases TWB’s talents for vocal arrangements. The first single, “Somewhere Listening,” is a spiritual ballad that tells the story of a person preparing for the Lord’s return:
While “Somewhere Listening” reflects the urban contemporary side of TWB, songs such as “Right Now Lord” showcase their skillful presentation of the traditional gospel quartet style with its energetic handclapping and complex harmonies. “Welcome Home Soldier” samples President Obama’s voice announcing “Welcome home” to the troops, and is sung as a special tribute to military servicemen and women who have risked their lives for their country, including many of the brothers’ own family members.
The title track, “God’s Been There,” starts off with the brothers singing in unison, giving sweet depth to the lyrics “I know I’ll make it through, because in all of the things I’ve been through, God’s been there.” The gradual addition of more harmonic layers until the song’s conclusion provides us with an affirmation of God’s support and strength to face life’s difficult times.
God’s Been There provides diverse genre appeal for worship, and proves what TWB can do through music ministry. With their immense musical talents, they certainly get their message across.
Reviewed by Yukari Shinagawa
Review Genre(s): Gospel Music and Spirituals