Dear Lord [Swerve]

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The hip-hop/gospel duo of T-Jay and Drew Gibson try to outdo Lionel Richie with their cleverly wistful opening track "Seven Times a Lady," counting up with gratitude for their mother's role in establishing their strong spiritual Christian foundation. Individually they sound like a lot of top modern gospel and soul singers, but producer Philip Armstrong creates beautiful textures with those voices amidst slick, smooth, and occasional crunchy rhythm tracks. Their hearts are in the right place on the ten other songs, and the vocals and grooves obviously appealing, but lyrically most of the themes they present are hardly innovative -- "Joy," "I'd Rather Be With You," etc. "Keep Your Head Up" takes on the theme of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," not really going much deeper than an encouraging message amidst the difficult world; yet the opening sound effects, of police communications of strife in the city, give it a realistic edge. Armstrong's sparse synth arrangement helps bring out the enduring message. Songs like "I'm Ready" get a bit deeper, presenting the alternative to the destructive gang lifestyle amidst a seductive soul playground. All in all, a pleasant listen with a few themes that could inspire a change of heart -- and that's worth plowing through some of the clich├ęs for.

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