The talented gentlemen in Mighty Men of Faith have been together for less than two years, but with their incredible blending and awesome energy one would assume they have been singing as a group for decades. Californians Wendell Basey, William (Pedie) Carswell, Reverend Ed Harris, and Malvin Scott have delivered an excellent debut album that captures the heart and soul of the divine message they are joyfully singing about.
Because He Loves Me is not a typical raise the roof, foot-stomping gospel album. Many different influences, including an ample helping of R&B, truly showcase the group’s vocal prowess. The title track opens with Harris speaking in his velvety baritone above lush strings, reminiscent of a Boyz II Men ballad. Taking it back a generation, the funk bass in “I’m Satisfied” has more of an Earth, Wind and Fire groove. Despite the song style, each delivery is casual and relaxed, including Harris’ free styling rap break that is positively old school, like Run DMC.
Devoid of rapping, the easy, mid-tempo “Use Me Lord” inhibits the same soulful vibe. This tune was written by another talented Las Vegas musician, Woody Woods. He composes and plays all the instruments on the track himself, but knows to let the vocalists shine, most notably in the clean vocal break at the end. Woods showcases the same vocal effect at the end of the romping “Do You Know Who You Are.” His songs utilize a wide array of decent sounding keyboard patches including heavily synthesized brass in this number. Another fabulous Woods composition is “Are You Thirsty.” The chord choice at the end of the chorus is creative and stands out. The lead vocals give an excellent performance that are engaging and exhibit powerful control over the falsetto passages. “Send Me I’ll Go” also features admirable lead vocals, full of intense high-octane passion. Unfortunately, while cutting loose the singer squeaks out a high note that is overtly out of place and devoid of masculinity.
Oliver Goodloe composed the truest straight up gospel blues song on the album entitled, “He Made a Way.” After a quiet brief organ introduction, the singer jumps right in with his enthusiastic call and response with the background chorus. Each word is deliberately sung and every downbeat precise to add extra emphasis. The excitement continues to build as the chorus chants “Yes He Will!” causing the unannounced fade out to seem premature. For a change of pace, Goodloe and Harris offer a reggae flavored tune with “Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken.” The essence of the islands is captured from the opening steel drum segment to the bohemian chorus, “No beg for bread.” As is typical of reggae, the melody is happy and upbeat, and the multiple chord modulations inserted as the song progresses keeps the repetitive nature of the song from becoming monotonous. The fade out in this number is more tasteful.
The most inspiring piece on Because He Loves Me is the Goodloe penned “We Will Praise Him.” Everything about this song is fantastic from the quick synthesizer riff in the opening under the forceful spoken word to the soloist in the second verse who fights hard to not crack on his top notes and pulls it off with intense vigor. The motivating lyrics and arousing soulful melodies possess similar vitality to Seal’s fourth studio album. The entire package from vocals to instruments to music to message culminates in a dynamic display of spirit-driven virtuosity.
Mighty Men of Faith are an immensely enjoyable ensemble to listen to. Not only is their message moving, but their extraordinary vocals are equally inspiring.
Review by Kelly O’Neil
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)