Hey Everyone! Before I begin this review, let me first say I am a very huge fan of Hezekiah Walker. I personally grew up on his music. His album “Live in London” played an integral part of my childhood. So when I heard that he was releasing another album I was very excited. I am sure most, if not all of us have heard his latest single “Every Praise” on the radio. This single created a great sense of buzz and anticipation for the album. So without further ado, I present my review of Hezekiah Walker's "Azusa the Next Generation."
The album starts with the upbeat single "Every Praise." This single is a new sound for Hezekiah Walker, which embraces the choir/praise and worship sound made popular by Youthful Praise. I like the extended version on the album that shows the choir giving God praise with the fruit of their lips. This song is very catchy and something I'm sure many churches will be adding to their choir/praise and worship set.
Upon first listening to the second song I must say I was disappointed. One of the biggest songs of 2013 was and is “Break Every Chain”, so to hear Hezekiah Walker do another version was kind of mind boggling. I also believe choosing Deitrick Haddon to sing the lead was a poor choice, because he didn’t really add anything to the song. However, the lyrics that were added to the song brought about a different touch and flair. The breakdown in the middle added some flair to the song, and the beginning of when my feelings began to change. I enjoyed the bridge of the song and the fact that it was turned more into a choir song.
I was very impressed with how the third song started with the infamous "War Cry", created by the late Bishop Kenneth Moales. I love the “churchiness” and “down home” essence of this song, "I Feel Your Spirit." I love an unexpected modulation and this song made my heart very happy. The lead vocalist really did an amazing job and was able to carry this song without over powering and taking anything away from the choir. The only critique I have for this song is that I wish they added a vamp to give the song a better close.
One of my favorite soloists Timiney Figeroa-Canton is featured on the fourth song of this album. It is amazing to see how she has vocally matured and grown. This song is really simple but the message reminds you that no matter what you go through, you are as the song title says "More Than a Conqueror." During your first listen to this song, you will catch yourself singing along because the simplicity yet powerful words ministered in the song. I love the vamp and the choir sounds really great on that part. I love how they end the song with a sweet and soft sound.
“Lead Me to the Rock” has a throwback Hezekiah Walker feel to it. As a Hezekiah Walker fan, I was excited at the initial beat drop. This is the style of choir music I miss and grew up on. I personally feel the verses could have been sung a little less, but never the less it is still a great song. The vamp had a 90's, early 2000 feel to it which caused my mind to travel to yesteryear. This is definitely a song you would hear at a conference. I wish the choir would have modulated higher on the bridge. The band sounds stellar and top notch. I really loved this song!
“Breakthrough” started with an amazing message from Hezekiah Walker. Donnie McClurkin was a perfect fit for the style of the song. The sound is more of an ensemble type of song. In my opinion, having a choir sing this song made the delivery of the song a bit overpowering. However, the message is really great because it reminds you of the power and strength of the God we serve.
Brian Courtney Wilson sounds great on the song “Grace”. I love the combination of the choir and the Neo Soul groove sound. This song is not really memorable, but all in all a good song.
I love the contemporary Christian feel of the song “Amazing”. The choir sounds really good behind the vocalist. The blend on the vamp was stellar, and I was truly impressed at how the three parts came together so beautifully. The vocalist carried the song in the vamp and you could literally feel the anointing in her voice. I love that they had the vocalist end the song. This song mirrors it’s lyrics and is simply amazing!
Now, there is nothing like a John P. Kee and Hezekiah Walker collaboration, so I was ecstatic to hear these two gospel giants reunite. “Work In Your Favor” has a great groove and throwback feel to it. It has a true choir style, while still embracing the unison sound which is very popular in gospel choral music. I love the modulation in the bridge, but the choir sounded somewhat tired towards the end of the song, and seemed to have lost energy as the modulations progressed. The vamp is very catchy, and I can see this song being sung because of its simplicity. The musicians showed their skill in the breakdown.
The last song “No Greater Love” ended the album with very high energy. The beginning has a chanty sound to it. This is a song I could see you pumping your fists to. I think this was the most appropriate song to end the album with. I feel that the end of an album should always leave the listener wanting more, and I believe that was accomplished with this song.
The album holistically is a great one! I truly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Some things could have been tweaked in my opinion, but unmistakably this is a great album. I was very impressed with the way the album included music for every type of lover of gospel music. All gospel choir fans are in for a treat. Please go out and purchase this album, I'm sure you will not be disappointed. God Bless!!!