Various Artists

South African Gospel

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South Africa gospel might have the same spiritual root as its American counterpart, but it's musically very different, based often around Zulu harmonies, rather than West African. So instead of the vocal rawness, the sound is much smoother. This compilation, from a number of different performers, highlights some of the facets of South African gospel music. The real highlight is Youth in Action. Their tracks display a wonderful vibrancy to both the singing and arrangements, and a passion that is largely missing elsewhere, as well as some stunning guitar work, especially on "Wenjenje U Thixo" and "Jesus Is Waiting." The Soweto Gospel Choir, perhaps the best known of the participants, is pure class, too. Most of the others, though, are fairly anonymous, slicked up in the studio and highly airbrushed. That's a shame, because a lot of this style can be quite inspirational and thrilling. This, however, isn't the best introduction to the genre.

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