Tye Tribbett - Greater Than (2013)

Tye Tribbett
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The last time we left groundbreaking contemporary gospel artist, Tye Tribbett, he had completed his first project without his dependable, former music family, Greater Anointing (G.A.), and backing band/production team, Sound Check.  Undoubtedly, Tribbett still maintained his creative genius in the studio with his 2010 post-G.A. effort, Fresh, a very revealing personal insight concerning personal transformations and restorations. Like other gospel superstars who are constantly under the media microscope and expected to conduct themselves in a godly manner off-stage, Tribbett faced scrutiny when the indiscretions of his marriage became public knowledge and tabloid fodder. Yet, Fresh, his last record for Sony, was received with mostly welcome critical arms, despite the absence of his core supporting players.

The last time we left groundbreaking contemporary gospel artist, Tye Tribbett, he had completed his first project without his dependable, former music family, Greater Anointing (G.A.), and backing band/production team, Sound Check.  Undoubtedly, Tribbett still maintained his creative genius in the studio with his 2010 post-G.A. effort, Fresh, a very revealing personal insight concerning personal transformations and restorations. Like other gospel superstars who are constantly under the media microscope and expected to conduct themselves in a godly manner off-stage, Tribbett faced scrutiny when the indiscretions of his marriage became public knowledge and tabloid fodder. Yet, Fresh, his last record for Sony, was received with mostly welcome critical arms, despite the absence of his core supporting players. Though skepticism was running rampant about the bad judgment calls that could have slowed down, stalled, or even silenced his career, his fans have been mostly forgiving, strongly rooting on the sidelines for Tribbett when he expressed repentance in anticipation of his latest release, Greater Than

With his transgressions in the rearview mirror and a new label home, Tribbett has written another musical chapter in his illustrious ministry and ushered in a new musical ensemble that shares his colorful worship vision. Greater Than, a coast-to-coast live endeavor recorded in churches from Miami and Los Angeles, is the fruit of so much change, some ripened and some less so.

When Tribbett executes his daring trademark moves, Greater Than sometimes soars like an eagle. His cheerleader call and response on the melodically shifting “Nobody” is right up his alley: “He is a heart fixer/Mind regulator/He is my healer.” The song is filled with revved up funk synthesizers recalling the ‘Minneapolis Sound’ and the choir’s shear flexibility as a vocal jazz orchestra goes head-to-head with the horn section. Tribbett successfully manages to incorporate other genres, like the George Harrison pop/rock hit, “I Got My Mind Set On You” set to “Stayed On You.” And, the campy, club ‘polka’ track from The Vengaboys, “The Vengaboys Is Coming,” is cleverly integrated into the early stages of “He Turned It.” Regrettably, the invigorating beginning is aborted midway through the track’s nine plus minutes by pounding out meaningless horn and organ hits over four minutes, diminishing the song’s potential.  

“Better,” is one of Greater Thans pleasing worship gems, with the choir’s crisp articulation, modulation and spacing topped with a calm, brilliantly placed breakdown, all setting up passionate praise sparks into the climax. “If He Did It Before (Same God),” reminds those of classic Tribbett, marrying gospel messages and inventive compositions – this time with a hip-hop swagger and a rock vibe. On the other hand, the Euro-pop flavored, “You Are Everything,” does not translate well towards Tribbett’s usually more live, organic’ sound. 

As in past efforts with G.A., Tribbett’s interpretation of more mainstream worship covers and originals on Greater Than are ok, but unexceptional. There is practically nothing remarkable on “The Worship Melody” or “You Are Good,” despite the latter’s opportunity to hear the congregation sing towards the closing. However, there is an exception to this dispiriting norm on the very popular CCM radio track, “Overcome,” where Tribbett and the choir spin plenty of soulful webs and subtle melodic changes without losing the integrity of the original by Jon Egan and The Desperation Band.          

Greater Than has received one of the biggest responses of Tribbett’s career by debuting at number one on the Billboard Gospel Charts. That said; Greater Than possesses several firmly stamped, fiery and intriguing Tribbett moments. Yet compared to his previous catalog (especially in the G.A. era), with his updated musical core, the overall elements just add up to a mixed bag. Somewhat Recommended.   

By Peggy Oliver

 
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