Anthony Brown & group therAPy - A Long Way From Sunday (2017)

Anthony Brown & group therAPy
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Anthony Brown & group TherAPy - A Long Way From Sunday

Sometimes my curiosity arises as to what worship leaders choose to name their backing ensembles, and if there is a lasting significance towards their ministry.    In this instance, Anthony Brown dubbed the name, Answered Prayer, for a collective of fellow college students.  Eventually, Brown changed the name over to group therAPy, inspired from Brown’s relationship with musician/producer Warryn Campbell and the capitalized AP paying homage to the previous group name, Answered Prayer.  Little did Brown realize that group therAPy would end up being more than just a name, considering their therapeutic, tight bonding on and off stage after the unexpected passing of a group member. 

Anthony Brown & group TherAPy - A Long Way From Sunday

Sometimes my curiosity arises as to what worship leaders choose to name their backing ensembles, and if there is a lasting significance towards their ministry.    In this instance, Anthony Brown dubbed the name, Answered Prayer, for a collective of fellow college students.  Eventually, Brown changed the name over to group therAPy, inspired from Brown’s relationship with musician/producer Warryn Campbell and the capitalized AP paying homage to the previous group name, Answered Prayer.  Little did Brown realize that group therAPy would end up being more than just a name, considering their therapeutic, tight bonding on and off stage after the unexpected passing of a group member. 

Speaking to their adhesiveness, when Brown eventually moved to California from his native Baltimore, Maryland, group therAPy joined the cross-country trek.  And the gospel in turn rewarded their diligence and talent with a number 3 placing on the Billboard Gospel Charts for their self-titled Tyscot Records debut in 2012.  Even more impressively, their follow-up release, Everyday Jesus, was acknowledged with 10 Stellar Awards.  Yet despite all the phenomenal accolades, Brown's intuitive choice of group therAPy was indeed beneficial - as a therapeutic means to encourage believers and other listeners in handling their frailties through the relationship with Christ  - through their chart topping singles, "Testimony," "Bless the Lord" and "Worth."

Their latest offering, A Long Way From Sunday, gains insight into Brown's therapeutic session that interjects his fears, his declarations and his confessions in spoken word introductions.   On most counts, group therAPy solidly supports their emphatic worship leader with rousing voices and musical proficiency that encompasses several genres.  Set to the spirit of New Orleans, "Glad" immediately identifies the battle Brown faced growing up balancing church and the real world: “I’ve learned to acknowledge what I feel/But act on what I know.”  The fun filled, pop flavored, "Na Na Ok (The Happy Song)" reaches for alternatives to beat the bad by reaching the happy zone: “Now that were on the move/Might as well enjoy this groove.” group therAPy exercises their jazz-tinged harmonies on the pleasantly swinging "Never Alone," about God delivering a “ray of sunshine,” and the classical inspired arrangement on "Why" demonstrates their vocal flexibility in an acapella showcase.  

However, just as Brown & group therAPy are hitting their artistic and ministry stride, a couple of ill-advised moments detour in an awkward direction.  While "Lost" sinks quickly in too many auto-tuned distractions and over simplistic raps, "I Got That" shadows the Tye Tribbett futuristic way that may appeal to younger ears, but hinders group therAPy’s already established strengths.  Thankfully, these weakest links on A Long Way From Sunday, are few and far between.

The initial single, "Trust in You," cuts to the soul with Brown’s & group therAPy’s focused worship that never holds back, especially reflected in the accompanying video: "You did not create me to worry/You did not create me to fear/But You created me to worship daily/So Ima leave it all right here." Another generation of praise and worship leaders, Jonathan McReynolds and Travis Greene, offer their down-to earth voices on "Everything."  In the only other guest appearance, "Consumed" is a tour d-'force for Le’Andria Johnson, who effortlessly exhibits her vocal range from gentle to gritty.  All in all, A Long Way From Sunday can certainly pass off as a personal therapeutic moment for Brown, but, as the group's name so aptly puts it, group therAPy is truly providing a needed ministry to those seeking their spiritual best.  Recommended.

By Peggy Oliver

 
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