The Murrills - Family Prayer (2008)

The Murrills
The_Murrills_Family_Prayer_Album.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase
Many musical groups seemed to be conceived in boardrooms by a bunch of marketing people using surveys to help them craft the kind of sound they think the public will like. These groups are about as organic as Spenda.

It's hard to find anything in music more natural than a family group, and musical outfits consisting of siblings, spouses or parents and their children are commonplace in gospel music - think about the Clark Sisters, The Winans or Mary Mary.

The latest example is the North Carolina based group The Murrills. Like many family based gospel groups, the six Murrill siblings grew up in church and their minister parents nurtured their musical gifts by having them perform in and around the Wilmington, N.C. area. Eventually, the siblings joined Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. Now, Lawrence has produced Family Prayer, the Murrills' new album.

Many musical groups seemed to be conceived in boardrooms by a bunch of marketing people using surveys to help them craft the kind of sound they think the public will like. These groups are about as organic as Spenda.

It's hard to find anything in music more natural than a family group, and musical outfits consisting of siblings, spouses or parents and their children are commonplace in gospel music - think about the Clark Sisters, The Winans or Mary Mary.

The latest example is the North Carolina based group The Murrills. Like many family based gospel groups, the six Murrill siblings grew up in church and their minister parents nurtured their musical gifts by having them perform in and around the Wilmington, N.C. area. Eventually, the siblings joined Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. Now, Lawrence has produced Family Prayer, the Murrills' new album.

Family Prayer showcases the strong point of this group - six talented singers who more than hold their own as an ensemble and as soloists. The Murrills are is willing to look to secular R&B music for songs that lend themselves to a gospel reinterpretation, with an excellent example on Family Prayer being the high energy "Friend Of Mine," which includes a sample of Eddie Kendricks' "He's A Friend." Another oldie but goody that will be familiar to fans of the 1980s R&B group New Edition is the Murrills' take on the New Edition classic "Can You Stand The Rain," a song originally asking if a woman is willing to stand with her man during the tough times. The Murrills' arrangement is not that different so it can be viewed in the same light. However, the song also takes on a different, more spiritual meaning in the hands of a gospel group such as the Murrills. Then, the song becomes a question from God wondering if mankind can maintain faith and love in him when times get tough. "Can You Stand the Rain" is preceded by a cover version of PJ Morton's "Good Days Bad Days." Morton is a singer who hails from a gospel background, so a song like "Good Days Bad Days" works both as a relationship song between a man and woman and as a relationship song between God and humankind.

The group covers a classic from one of the first families of gospel music with their take on The Winans' "Long Time Coming." What comes across in those cover versions and in the Murrills' originals are the kind of tight harmonies that listeners expect from a family based group. It's clear that Andre, Donnell, Damion, Arnetta, Darwin and Roger enjoy performing together. That comes through best on rousing up-tempo numbers such as "Better" and "Be The One." Family Prayer's musical variety contains something for every member of the gospel listening family. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
World Premiere - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Album of the Month - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

Leave a comment!