Melba Moore - Nobody But Jesus (2005)

Melba Moore
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Nobody But Jesus is Melba Moore's first release in several years, and, while the disc is a mixed bag, it is certainly a welcome return for this talented vocalist.  Those who wondered whether Moore, now in her late 50s, could still sing, will be pleasantly assured by the new disc.  Whether handling acoustic ballads, uptempo call-and-response numbers, or all out Gospel belters, her voice is thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

Nobody But Jesus is Melba Moore's first release in several years, and, while the disc is a mixed bag, it is certainly a welcome return for this talented vocalist.  Those who wondered whether Moore, now in her late 50s, could still sing, will be pleasantly assured by the new disc.  Whether handling acoustic ballads, uptempo call-and-response numbers, or all out Gospel belters, her voice is thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

It is in elements beyond Moore's voice that the album runs into problems, the foremost being the disc's tinny arrangements.  An overabundance of synthesizers and programmed drums rather than real musicians (a sign that the album was recorded on the cheap) mars what would otherwise be a very solid undertaking.  This is especially true on the fairly pedestrian upbeat gospel numbers "There is Power in the Blood," "Higher Ground" and "Praise Yah."  Moore overcomes the sonic limitations on the nice ballad "Master and Friend" and covers of the traditional "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (here a midtempo number) and "Precious Lord" (which she absolutely nails vocally).  By far the highlights of the album are a couple of strong cuts that move away from traditional Gospel and into a more current, soulful groove.  "Call Me" is a terrific Aretha-like song that Moore handles beautifully, and "Rise My Sister," the most modern sounding cut on the album, is a wonderful song of empowerment and faith, with great vocal arrangements and the best production on the album.  It is a truly wonderful performance by Moore and one of the most infectious songs I've heard this year.

Due almost exclusively to the mechanical, inorganic arrangements, Nobody But Jesus is not as powerful a return for Moore as we could have hoped.  However, includes enough strong individual cuts to make it worth recommending.  Here's hoping that it is the stepping stone to a future disc that will provide this talented songstress with production and orchestration worthy of her formidable talent.

By Chris Rizik

 
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