Winans Phase 2

We Got Next

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Finding the middle ground between inspirational gospel and mainstream urban credibility, Winans Phase 2 -- the latest Winans family group, comprising the four sons of members of the Winans -- deliver a convincing crossover bid with their debut album, We Got Next. It's not a blatant grab for chart success, though; it's more a case of getting their spiritual message out by wrapping it in packaging that will hook more listeners. And the sonic packaging is top-quality, too; big names like Narada Michael Walden (whose credits include Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Tevin Campbell), Rodney Jenkins (Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Backstreet Boys, Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah, etc.) and Cedric Caldwell (Take 6, other Winans-related acts) handle the production chores, giving the record a high-tech, state-of-the-art urban-pop gloss. So much so, in fact, that the record's soulfulness can sometimes sound muted, but the smoothly polished surfaces do mesh well with the cool sophistication of the group's harmonies. Overall, it's a fine debut.

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