Authenticity is a major currency for gospel artists. Both artists and fans tend to define authenticity in gospel music as living in a manner that is consistent with the Christian principles by which the performer professes to live. That explains why many Christians have a problem with secular artists who release gospel recordings. R&B artists who work on gospel projects counter with the argument that, although they make secular music, they have a deep affinity for the Christian music that they grew up singing in the church. While the average Christian who listens to religious music would rather hear Marvin Sapp or Shirley Caesar sing a church song, church folk today have become more accepting of gospel albums by some secular artists.
Ty Causey is the type of secular artist who will get a pass from some Christians who get a copy of his new CD The Gospel Truth. Causey’s R&B fans recognize the Fort Wayne-based singer and songwriter for his silky soul ballads and mid-tempo tunes that often address affairs of the heart. Causey is a throwback to the soul crooners of the 1970s and 80s who crafted R&B music that owed more than a passing debt to jazz. Plenty of church folk listened to the vocalists who influenced Causey, and they retain a soft spot for the type of music that this Hoosier makes.
And if consistency is one measure of authenticity, then it can be said that Causey keeps it real on The Gospel Truth. The tracks on The Gospel Truth bear all of the hallmarks of the music that can be found on Causey’s secular work. This is a record that –with the exception of the religious subject matter – would be instantly recognizable to Causey’s long time fans.
Some describe gospel musicians as singing love songs to Christ. By that description, Causey is the ideal vocalist to perform gospel tunes. “Thank You For Your Beautiful” is a soulful gospel styled ballad that finds Causey giving thanks for God’s creation. On “Spiritual Overflow,” Causey fuses a praise and worship themed number about the healing power of God’s love with a 1980s styled mid-tempo arrangement that sports a pulsating bass line. “Purpose In My Life” is the track that owes the most to jazz both in terms of the deft piano improvising that serves as a counterpoint to the drum and bass and in terms of Causey’s vocal phrasing.
Those three songs, arranged consecutively as the middle third of this 10 track album, encapsulate Ty Causey’s approach to music, regardless of whether he is setting the mood for romance or making the way clear for the entry of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel Truth is a good record to play at events that bring gospel and R&B fans together. Gospel lovers will nod their heads in agreement with Causey’s Christ centered message while soul fans tap their feet to the album’s infectious grooves. Recommended.
By Howard Dukes