Though the title may be a bit misleading (electric bass, guitar, and keys are prominent throughout the concert), there is no question about the power driving Ricky Dillard's UNPLUGGED...THE WAY CHURCH USED TO BE. The music is passionate, stirring, and accessible, with plenty of funk and contemporary R&B overtones, and the tight-knit musicianship and phenomenal singing by New G (Dillard's backing group) accentuates these flavors. But this is down-home gospel through and through, with every note expressing testimony to the Christian faith.
The roof-raising opener, "Take Me Back," challenges any listener to stay seated, as does the horn-driven, old-style funk of "One More Chance." The smooth soul of "Great Things" lets the choir shine behind Dillard's affecting, rough-hewn vocal, and the slow swell of "There Is No Way" takes us down to the river to pray. The intensity and conviction inherent in Dillard's songwriting is what impresses most about UNPLUGGED, and one has the distinct impression that this uplifting music is on its way to becoming part of contemporary gospel's core repertoire.