Hezekiah Walker - Souled Out (2008)

Hezekiah Walker
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Souled Out, the latest CD by Hezekiah Walker and LFC contains the highly coordinated set choir songs for which Walker has long been famous. However, the artist also shows that he has been following recent trends in gospel music by also including praise and worship songs on this record.

Walker's awareness of up and coming trends is apparent on the praise and worship song "Moving Forward." If the track has the feel of something that you might hear from Israel Houghton and New Breed, it is because Houghton co-wrote the song. "Moving Forward" shows that Walker and his choir can easily harness the power and group emotion and spirituality that has made praise and worship singing a key part of many church services. Of course, the choir sounds wonderful, but the musical arrangement and memorable lyrics ensure that the entire congregation will soon join in the singing.

Souled Out, the latest CD by Hezekiah Walker and LFC contains the highly coordinated set choir songs for which Walker has long been famous. However, the artist also shows that he has been following recent trends in gospel music by also including praise and worship songs on this record.

Walker's awareness of up and coming trends is apparent on the praise and worship song "Moving Forward." If the track has the feel of something that you might hear from Israel Houghton and New Breed, it is because Houghton co-wrote the song. "Moving Forward" shows that Walker and his choir can easily harness the power and group emotion and spirituality that has made praise and worship singing a key part of many church services. Of course, the choir sounds wonderful, but the musical arrangement and memorable lyrics ensure that the entire congregation will soon join in the singing.

Walker and LFC are especially comfortable singing songs such as "There's No Way" and "O Give Thanks," and it is on slower and more traditional songs like this that the ensemble's strengths are best displayed. What the listener will hear is a Walker 's skill in finding strong individual singers who form a formidable group when singing together. What makes these songs so compelling is tenors don't get overwhelmed by the sopranos and altos. Each section can be heard clearly, and the listener can hear every word.

The arrangements on Souled Out also showcase a group that is able to incorporate R&B influenced songs into its gospel repertoire. The mid tempo "Keep On Moving On" is an example of that. Of course, the band is a big reason why gospel groups such as Hezekiah Walker & LFC can perform so many different styles. The soloists and choir engage in changes in tempo and pace and the musicians never miss a beat. Listeners used to hear that skill on a regular basis in R&B music when Barry Gordy was drafting jazz players as his house band. These days, only gospel and jazz fans take that kind of skill for granted.

Of course, Walker realizes that gospel listeners want integrity. Gospel fans not only expect performers to give them songs that are spiritually substantive, fans also expect a very high level of skill. On Souled Out, Walker and LFC deliver both.

By Howard Dukes

 
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