Many have heard the wise, old saying out of the mouths of babes: “I want to grow up just like you, Dad." Jason Nelson was blessed with the opportunity of growing up with a highly respected pastor, Rev. James Nelson. There was no doubt in Jason and twin brother Jonathan’s minds that their father impacted their dreams to pursue their own ministries. Whether it was circumstance or otherwise, Jason and Jonathan etched similar paths towards their professional careers. From attending the same colleges, working in tandem on each other’s recordings and their connection with worship leader Donald Lawrence, both were driven to serve God in whatever avenue was presented to them.
Jonathan spent the last dozen years working with vocal ensemble Purpose, which graced gospel radio with “Healed” (also recorded by Lawrence), “Expect the Great” and “Right Now Praise.” Jason was also preaching from the pulpit at Greater Bethlehem Temple in Baltimore, Maryland following in the footsteps of his father. On every level the prodigal son was achieving his childhood dream: excelling as a theologian, soloist, musician and songwriter, while also performing with several choirs, including Donald Lawrence & Co.
Nelson has also creatively distinguished himself as his own person, while still following a path cleared by two gospel trailblazers. Toward those aims, Nelson has cultivated a distinctive brand of worship by incorporating several different music genres—all delivered with a warm voice and emphatic praise approach that clearly echoes Commissioned icons Marvin Sapp and Fred Hammond. After self-releasing a debut project in 2005, I Shall Live, Nelson finally introduces his major label entry, Shifting the Atomosphere, on Sapp and Hammond’s current label home, Verity Records.
Recorded live at his home church, Shifting the Atmosphere showcases Nelson’s burning passion in ministering to the congregation. “God is Good” and the New Orleans flavored, “Jubilee,” are soulfully charged calls to praise and worship. The country-accented ballad, “No Words,” features a very refreshing pairing with Leon Timbo. There are welcome old-school testimonial breaks (as Nelson declares: “Sometimes you have to say like they use to say it”) for a Medley of Mylon LeFevre’s “Without Him I Would Be Nothing” and the traditional hymn, “Love Lifted Me.” Another roots piece, Nelson’s original composition, “Power in His Name,” fares less well, especially with the obligatory charismatic instrumental climax. Where Nelson truly excels are those Sapp-stamped exhortations like Sapp’s lesser know piece, “Don’t Count Me Out”: “I don’t care what your house looks like growing up…There is still value in me.” Similar material like “Dominion” is okay but lacks the fierce drive behind “Don’t Count Me Out.” The title track about navigating life’s daily storms is decorated with a quiet storm atmosphere: calming background vocals, tender guitar strokes and a gentle percussive bed.
Though there are a few underwhelming moments, Shifting the Atmosphere still keeps the praise and worship blood pumping. In the long run, both Jason and Jonathan’s ministry proudly carries on the Nelson family name for this gospel music generation. Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver