Marvin Winans - Alone But Not Alone (2007)

Marvin Winans
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Upon hearing the phrase, "Alone But Not Alone," which is also the title of Marvin Winans' highly anticipated solo album release, one might wonder about the intended message.  Everyone has some sense of familiarity with Marvin as part of the infamous Winans singing group that included Marvin and his three brothers, Ronald, Michael and twin, Carvin.  The quartet was part of the "First Family of Gospel," a well-earned title of an amazingly musical family that included recording artists Mom & Pop Winans, Bebe & CeCe, Angie & Debbie and the next generation of Winans (Winans Phase II, Marvin Jr., etc.), all seeming to possess an abundance of musical talent. 

Upon hearing the phrase, "Alone But Not Alone," which is also the title of Marvin Winans' highly anticipated solo album release, one might wonder about the intended message.  Everyone has some sense of familiarity with Marvin as part of the infamous Winans singing group that included Marvin and his three brothers, Ronald, Michael and twin, Carvin.  The quartet was part of the "First Family of Gospel," a well-earned title of an amazingly musical family that included recording artists Mom & Pop Winans, Bebe & CeCe, Angie & Debbie and the next generation of Winans (Winans Phase II, Marvin Jr., etc.), all seeming to possess an abundance of musical talent. 

The world mourned along with the Winans when brother Ronald succumbed to heart disease two years earlier.  The impact and sense of grief experienced by this seemingly close-knit family certainly must have been a tremendous challenge; however, publicly they focused on celebrating the life and wonderful memories they shared with Ronald.  Marvin says that Ronald was his best friend, and understandably a void of that nature left him feeling substantially "alone."  Which leads to the question of the title of Marvin's first contemporary Gospel solo album: Alone is otherwise defined as unaided and without, so is it possible to be alone, but not alone?  With an opening groove that borrows from Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," the title track lays out Winans' strong conviction that God will never abandon you, even when people do. 

While a typically strong Winans project musically, Alone But Not Alone is may be even more notable as a powerful collection of messages that seem to reflect life experiences that Marvin Winans has faced over the years.  This may be best exemplified in the upbeat "My Story." Co-written and featuring twin Carvin, the song makes you smile as Marvin, an ordained Preacher and founder of the well-attended Perfecting Church in Detroit sings the verse laden with slang, "Not seeking worldly treasures, to bust a rhyme or just be clever..."  But the focus of the song is on making decisions contrary to what you have been told throughout life about right and wrong and learning that you've walked into a messy situation.  Needing to find an exit, one filled with peace and sanctity, you turn to God knowing that God makes a way out of no way.

The first single from this project, "Just Don't Wanna Know," is a beautifully sung ballad that tells one-side of the story of one's deep pain after having been rejected by a former partner when it seems that a sincere effort has been made to reconcile.  When at his lowest point, receiving anger from the other person and knowing that God is always there does not soothe the need for physical touch or companionship. 

Maybe most poignant is "He Brought Me Joy," a track on which brother Ronald shares what may have been his final testimony in song about his faith in God through the difficult days of suffering with his illness.  There is comfort in knowing that Ronald seemed to trust God in all ways.

Marvin's spirituality and connection to God are overwhelmingly evident; however Alone But Not Alone isn't weighed down with preachy lyrics or songs that are solely appealing to a church-based audience.  Perhaps the pairing of Winans with producer Tommy Sims (Blackstreet, Bruce Springsteen, CeCe Winans) is why the end result is an album that does not fit into any particular box.   Alone But Not Alone should receive love from the gospel community, the secular world and music lovers worldwide.  Highly recommended

- Detrel Howell

 
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