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The Faulkner Review

 

This album, Awesome, consists of twelve tracks. Some of them are surprisingly long, but always highly structured and never meandering. First track God Is Great is in fact the longest song at nearly six minutes, and provides an uplifting start to the album. It opens with a blaze of lead electric guitar and pumping brass. Josiah introduces the listener with a few warm words, before unleashing a great vocal performance that brought to mind Stevie Wonder. The song is built around the catchy title hook, backed up by a rich Gospel choir that becomes part of a nice call-and-response section with Josiah.

 

Because Of You is contrasting, a mid-tempo funk track with rich organ and fuzzy synth. Josiah gives another fine vocal performance, again aided by some fantastic gospel harmonies. The snappy drumming works in tandem with some superb bass playing that drives the whole track along. The chord progression is extremely well written, using complex jazzy chords that show Josiah's musicality. This really comes to the fore during the middle section, where the chords take some unexpected turns before modulating to a different key. Truly excellent songwriting and arrangement. 

 

The title track comes next and it's a very strong affirmation of his Christian faith set to a mid tempo soul backing, with a laid back groove and some funky offbeat brass stabs. It's another very well crafted song that features the staples of his sound and managing to live up to its title with ease. Fourth track Hallelujah is rather different, a slow ballad that begins with picked acoustic guitar and allows Josiah to sing in a more delicate manner at the upper part of his range. Another fine song and a nice change of pace.

 

Acoustic guitar features again in fifth track Praise The Way I Do, though it is used in a more rhythmic fashion as this song returns to the soul funk style heard earlier. The gospel vocal arrangement is particularly good on this one, reaching the top of their range towards the end. The bass playing is also often in the high register and helps to lift the music, the bassline high class as ever. 

 

The sixth track Always is a slow paced piano ballad that you would normally expect to be a love song, but lyrically is about the strength of his faith. Josiah has an excellent voice for this kind of track and this is one of his finest vocal performances on the album. The lengthy high note he hits around the four minute mark is simply stunning singing.

 

Let Us Praise is straight back to the funk style and may be the funkiest track on the album. It features a raucous but very catchy brass arrangement that drives the whole track along and there's a great guitar lick that underpins the music. As ever, Josiah takes the chords to some unexpected places and it modulates up two keys around the three minute mark which makes it even more uplifting. A real album highlight.

 

Dirty is another piano ballad though more jazzy than Always. Lyrically, it's about wanting to be pure and facing up to our human weaknesses. It features a lot of spoken word dialogue along side the singing, in a similar way to Marvin Gaye on his classic What's Going On album. Apart from the faith-based lyrics it could almost be a track by Boys2men.

 

In The Need Of Prayer is another slow track about turning to prayer when no other solution for your problems can be found. It's a nice song at a meditative pace, with a loving and compassionate message. Tenth track Nothing To Fear opens with a lovely flourish of Spanish acoustic guitar then develops into another strong soul/funk song, with an inspiring lyric about conquering fears and doubts through faith. Some nice wah-wah guitar on this one, also.

 

The Savior Reigns is one of the most sophisticated songs with a real Latin jazz feel. The walking bass line and another breathtaking vocal arrangement are just two of the stand out elements, capped by a passionate, heartfelt lead vocal. The modulating harmonies at the end have to be heard to be believed! Twelfth and final track Worship closes the album, starting with piano and synth strings. Josiah lays down a tender and expressive vocal over this relatively sparse arrangement which allows his voice to truly shine. It's a gentle and poignant way to finish a superb set of songs.

 

Overall, this is an extremely well written and arranged album that display Josiah's abilities as a songwriter and producer, as well as a very fine vocalist. While his music is specifically aimed at inspiring those who share his faith, music is universal and anyone who simply likes listening to well crafted and performed soul, gospel and funk music will find much to enjoy here.

 

Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)

blogtalkradio.com/oasisofhope

Music Review: Awesome

Written by Jean G Noel AKA Dj Rev: Host of blogtalkradio.com/oasisofhope

 

On Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 I was delighted to conduct a private listening session of Josiah Ruff single entitled " You Paid the Price for Me". As a Christian Dj who interacts with numerous gospel artists and listen to different genre's of acoustics to discern chorus that fits the vision of our online radio show, I must say that most Christian songs are composed in ways that either maintain the traditional symphony of what is considered as being theologically accepted, while other Christian artists are stuck in a maze trying to produce radical Christian music that are only accepted by a remnant of people (mainly the youth). However, it has been a challenge for a Christian Artist to emerge on the scene, who is inspired by God in a manner that wisely connects a sound biblical message married to a bebop that is contemporary.

Although good music is judged by the lyrics and sound, yet, certain Christian composers find it complicated to provide listeners with a catchy tune, while transmitting the gospel message. 

This song entitled "Awesome" commences with an atmospheric and rhythmic instrumental that made it so easy for Josiah Ruff to ease into singing his bars. The rhythmic style was a mixture of classical jazz, blues, folk, R&B, and traditional worship hymns. As a lover of all type of music, I am always fascinated with musical compositions that are mastered in a way that permits listeners to enjoy the vocal arrangements and instrumentals simultaneously. Therefore, the vibe of this single makes me feel like I am actually listening to a live show rather than music that is manipulated in the studio by robots (auto tune), which overrides the artist natural ability to vocalized his message.  

In this musical artwork, listeners will enjoy the sound of the drums, guitar, saxophones, and keyboard as if you are attending a classical jazz show, but than Josiah Ruff transition into a traditional worship style as the back up singers emphasized various choruses.  I was expecting the traditional repetition of the same phrases, when the chorus was sung. On the other hand, this band was strategic, and had me bopping my head as they supported the lead singer's stanza.  Finally, I can say we have a gospel song that will break down the walls of race, gender, age, and theological differences. “Awesome" is a cross-cultural song, and will challenge the manner in which gospel artist continues to produce good music. I am excited for Josiah Ruff and can’t wait to purchase a copy of the entire album. 

In Josiah Ruff’s heart, there rings a melody of love, and he puts it before you in his third album Faithfull.

Josiah's voice holds a gentle power as he opens the album with a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace”.

Following up this classic hymn, Josiah’s original tracks ever honor and exalt God.

“Just as I Am” offers encouragement that can at once strengthen the resolve of a believer and inspire a sinner to believe.

The stand-out track “In My Heart There Rings a Melody,” captures what is at the core of Josiah’s music: he has a song that Jesus gave him and it is his joy and duty to share it on this song and many others that carry heaven’s harmonies to your ears.

He obeys this gospel call with soulful arrangements and inspired lyrics.

This album offers “Wonderful Words of Life” that you will want to hear again and again.



* Note from the Editor.*

This review was written as I was compiling songs to release for a new hymns album. Since that time I have not yet released the cd. "Faithful" is scheduled to be released this quarter. So be on the look out for it!


Thanx Mia for your kind words.


Josiah

Jamendo.com

Wow...What a beautiful voice you have Josiah, i'am speechless and shocked at listening to you sing, I had to take a moment to compose myself to write this review. As beauty just radiates from you, as you sing. and I sit in awe and sheer and utter heavenly bliss, saviouring each and every single word you sing to me, the listener. Thank you for sharing your voice and your feelings in each and every single superb, heartfelt, gorgeous expressed to perfection at that, touching track with us.And the music especially the piano just wraps its warmth around your outstanding voice.


Musictomyears - UK

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