Earnest Pugh

Earnestly Yours

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Gospel singer Earnest Pugh hits the ground running on his fourth album, Earnestly Yours, beginning with a bravura reading of "Song of Adoration" that signals his approach throughout the disc. Pugh has a rangy, elastic voice that he can take down to a gritty low tenor and up to a soaring falsetto, and he uses it to joust with his choir on these songs of praise & worship. Although he can be traditional, as he is on his a cappella showcase "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," Pugh most often shows off his immersion in the '70s and ‘80s pop/R&B sound of Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie, notably on "You Deserve It," which musically could fit right in on Songs in the Key of Life. Pugh brings in guest soloists Beverly Crawford ("For My Good") and Lisa Knowles ("He Already Knows"), but he really doesn't need the support. The ballads like "I Need Your Glory" build to a powerful intensity, and the barn burners maintain a steady force. The material itself isn't special, but the singer infuses it with his enthusiasm, making for a moving session.

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