Byron Cage - Faithful to Believe (2009)

Byron Cage
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There are some gospel artists who make songs that are more inspirational than overtly religious. Those songs are fine. I like plenty of them. They are the kind of songs that can be played around non-believers without sounding preachy. Those songs give listeners the "soft sell." Byron Cage doesn't make those kinds of songs. Cage has always made the kind of music that fills Faithful to Believe, his newly released live album that was recorded in Detroit .

There are some gospel artists who make songs that are more inspirational than overtly religious. Those songs are fine. I like plenty of them. They are the kind of songs that can be played around non-believers without sounding preachy. Those songs give listeners the "soft sell." Byron Cage doesn't make those kinds of songs. Cage has always made the kind of music that fills Faithful to Believe, his newly released live album that was recorded in Detroit .

His powerhouse ensemble choirs sing with energy, passion and in a style that is as wound as tightly as a clock. There is never any question about who and where Cage looks for his help. He is definitely on the Lord's side. His soloists have a deep understanding of and love for the cadences of the black gospel musical traditions. His musicians are virtuosos who can go from a slow pensive numbers to high-energy up-tempo tunes with one nod from choir director. These are gospel musicians, but they seamlessly merge jazz, blues, funk and soul flourishes into their music. And even with all of that, listeners never forget that they are listening to a gospel music.

Being an unabashed purveyor of straight up gospel hasn't hurt Cage at all. Over the years, his songs have been mainstays with praise and worship teams and sanctuary and youth choirs, and Cage has done nothing that will reverse that trend on Faithful to Believe.

If you spend any time in a church, you will likely hear a Byron Cage song. The songs are popular because Cage is one of the gospel music artists who writes songs with hooks tailor made to be used when praise and worship teams lead congregational songs, and choirs love singing the big ensemble numbers.

While Cage gives listeners straightforward good news of the Gospel message, he is not averse to switching tempos. A song like the mid-tempo "I Give You Praise," features Cage leading the choir in the kind of call and response singing style that has long been a staple of the black church, and makes the song ideal to be performed during praise and worship service and by a strong voice lead vocalist leading a choir.

Slower songs such as "Thankful" provide a showcase for lyrics that allow listeners to bask in the glory of God while energetic hand-clapper "I Can't Hold It," provides a chance for choir members and listeners to cut a step. Cage also allows his band to get loose on a song that features jazzy solos and tempo changes, and the choir hangs right in there with the musicians on every twist and turn. Faithful to Believe is an album that will be right on time for fans of good, hand clapping, foot stomping gospel music, and congregations will get more than a few chances to enjoy these songs, as many of them will be coming to a choir stand near you. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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