10th Annual Gospel Album Nominee
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Record Label: Valentine Records
Swan Silvertones have been around, seemingly, forever. Claude Jeter originally formed the group as the Four Harmony Kings, way back in 1938. Jeter died in 2009, but The Swan Silvertones live on with Need More Love, a traditional and worshipful new album. Nothing sums up enjoyable black gospel better than the track, “Let’s Go to Church”. When The Swan Silvertones sing, “When you get there, you can leave your troubles at the door,” the same can also be said of the experience in listening to these 12 enthusiastic tracks. Gospel music is all about focusing on God, and turning away from all the (mostly) bad reports on the TV news. The black church experience is as much physical as it is emotional and spiritual. Therefore, The Swan Silvertones encourage listeners to clap their hands right along with this vocal quintet during “Let’s Go to Church”. That’s an offer impossible to refuse. This CD opens with “New Jerusalem”, a traditional gospel powerhouse. The track features unobtrusive drums and guitar, yet upfront church-y piano. This ‘New Jerusalem’ they speak of is heaven, by the way, a place where there will be no tears or pain. “What About You” also rolls with a traditional feel, with its foot-stomping beat and call-andresponse vocal arrangement. This is the sort of lyric one can easily imagine being sung in a child’s Sunday school class. But deeper than that, it’s a personal testimony. This man’s life has been changed by God; what about you? The title track, “Need More Love”, is a slow burner, an R&B ballad. It is, as the title states, a cry for more charity among mankind. It’s the kind of song that would have also fit in well with old, ‘70s O’Jays recordings. But instead of blaming the problem merely on the lack of brotherly love, this lyric holds out hope of a better world with the help of Jesus’ power. You can’t love “without Jesus on the inside,” they remind us. Black gospel music is also about holding onto hope and two of these songs speak about having good reasons to believe in the future. “I Can Make It” takes the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace”, and turns it into a lyric about dedicated perseverance. The track’s arrangement utilizes keyboards that mimic a backing horn section. On “I’ll Make It Home Someday”, the hope of a heavenly home is specifically spotlighted. This time, the vocal is falsetto, in the tradition of The Chi-Lites and The Stylistics. Sometimes the road of this life seems nearly impassible to traverse, and heaven appears almost out of reach. But The Swan Silvertones are here to remind us, that if we keep on keeping on, we’ll get there. This release ends with “Message/Prayer”, which closes the recording the same way most church services conclude – with a prayer. It’s the sort of conclusion that clearly sets it apart from ‘just another CD’. You get the feeling these men truly care for the folks that buy and listen to their CDs. Need More Love does not just carry on the name, The Swan Silivertones; it also carries on a musical tradition that is as powerful as a jubilant Sunday morning in church.