Restoration is quite commonplace in the life of a gospel music minister, no matter what his or her level of success. Just ask Tye Tribbett, who seemed to be living on top of the world as one of contemporary gospel's innovative voices with three top-selling discs (Life, Victory Live! and Stand Out). Though he occasionally battled the secular and sacred worlds, Tribbett remained convicted to teach his audiences about remaining pure in spirit. Everything seemed to be going the right direction with the vocally dependable G.A. (Greater Anointing) and his crackerjack band (and production team) SoundCheck, his long time support system since 1996. But, like many experienced and secure ministers of God, Tribbett fell into worldly temptations and found out what a microscope he was under as someone in the public eye. For the past several months Tribbett has been in the intense restoration process for his marriage, in which his reputation understandably has taken a major hit. However, the consummate artist still manages to keep his musical game on track while now preaching about the God of several chances. Without G.A. and SoundCheck by his side, Tribbett has officially started a new ministry chapter.
So how does Tribbett handle the solo spotlight on his latest release, Fresh? Sometimes the vintage Tribbett shows up with the bouncy praise of "Good," "Eulogy" (a cleansing piece about leaving personal demons behind: "Don't want to hear what you got to say cause that is what got me here in the first place") and "Replace Me," a track that comes closest to the inventive orchestrations from SoundCheck. At other times, there is a reflective side with the dreamy sixties pop of "Holding On": "You are strong enough to bring me out and restore." Tribbett also knows how to feed off different duet partners digging into the sixties soul and traditional church service with Pastor Tim Rogers on "Keep Me," hitting on the explosive worship ballad "Your Blood (The Communion Song)" with Isaac Carree, and nicely complementing Israel Houghton's atmospheric tenor voice on "Champion."
The weakest spots on Fresh are where Tribbett's vocals are masked in auto tune overdoses, including the techno pop flavored title track and the dreary robotic, "Take Over." Thankfully, those occasions are few and far between. What is also lacking on Fresh are G.A.'s funky and powerful voices as evidenced on the disappointing, "You Alone". That aside, the good outweighs the bad, and Tribbett is truly turning the page from his past to reveal a fresh spiritual outlook. Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver