Bishop Eddie L. Long / New Birth Total Praise Choir

Spirit & Truth

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Times may change, and fashions may come and go, but Christianity will always have its music, be it chants, hymns, Christian rock, or good old-fashioned gospel. A contemporary R&B-influenced form of the latter is convincingly presented here by relative newcomers, the Georgia-based Bishop Eddie L. Long and his New Birth Total Praise Choir, whose mission is, as their name implies, to sweep away all doubt and sorrow with full-throated force.

You can't encounter SPIRIT & TRUTH without being moved by the ensemble's passionate sincerity, over the course of a set that moves from the hypnotically percussive "Christ in Me," through the downbeat "Thank You for Your Grace," to the quietly moving finale of "Anything Is Possible." The worship theme is enhanced by the percolating R&B arrangements, which provide an energizing backdrop to the choir's message of praise. But neither snappy arrangements nor the presence of high-profile guests--including Winans alum Vanessa Bell Armstrong and gospel heavy-hitter Kevin Bond--can distract from the choir, led by Bishop Long, whose music is the physical manifestation of their faith. Their soaring voices dominate throughout, making listening to SPIRIT & TRUTH a genuinely uplifting religious experience.

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