Singletons - Better Than That

Singletons
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It seems sometimes that Fred Hammond is everywhere, but he is at such a creative peak that he seems to do it all really, really well.  The latest example is Better than That by the family group the Singletons.  Hammond writes, produces and even sings on the album and creates an environment where this extremely talented Michigan family singing group can shine.  Better Than That is one of the best Gospel crossover albums you'll hear this year, not because it paves new territory (a la Tonex), but because, front-to-back, it does what it does so consistently well.

It seems sometimes that Fred Hammond is everywhere, but he is at such a creative peak that he seems to do it all really, really well.  The latest example is Better than That by the family group the Singletons.  Hammond writes, produces and even sings on the album and creates an environment where this extremely talented Michigan family singing group can shine.  Better Than That is one of the best Gospel crossover albums you'll hear this year, not because it paves new territory (a la Tonex), but because, front-to-back, it does what it does so consistently well.

There's a lot to like on Better than That, and part of the appeal is that it continues to get better with repeated listenings.  So while Gospel radio will likely jump on some of the more commercial upbeat tunes such as "Dance In The Spirit," and "Give Him the Praise" (with Kirk Franklin), the disc's real high points are more hidden:  "Nobody Like Him," "For Me," "Keep Holdin" On To Me" and "Worthy to Be Praised" are the kind of quality ballads that often get overlooked upon first listening but which create an internal consistency on a disc that -- in a time when we're bombarded by albums consisting of a couple strong songs and a lot of filler -- results in great listening front-to-back.  The formula seems deceptively simple:  put together quality, melodic songs, combine them with subtle arrangements and allow the focus to be on strong fronting vocals.  But few albums do that as consistently as Better Than That.  Like albums of the past couple years by Smokie Norful, there's nothing out-of-the-box on Better Than That, but there's a lot to be said for an album that plays within the rules and handles every element - material, voices, arrangements - just right.   Part of that is Hammond's hand but the other important piece is that the Singletons can flat out sing.  Their harmonies are sublime and they can alternate leads among them without missing a beat.  And as a result, Better Than That is a quality album that deserves to be heard.

By Chris Rizik

 

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