Suzzy & Maggie Roche

Zero Church

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This collection of hymns and gospel numbers was originally scheduled for release on September 11, 2001, but global events pushed back the album and additional tracks were added. And it appears as if the wait was worthwhile. The lush vocals of the Roche sisters, along with some lovely backing vocals by a large supporting cast, give each song a dreamy pop feeling despite the religious and socially conscious overtones. "Why Am I Praying" is a perfect example of this idea, with the addition of some flügelhorns and trumpets for a breezy feeling. "New York City," despite the content, has some of the prettiest harmonies recorded in years. "Anyway," supposedly written by Mother Teresa (but such reports were unfounded), resembles Juliana Hatfield or Jane Siberry in her happiest moments. "Teach Me O Lord" has an outstanding a cappella vocal by DuPree, who adds a Southern gospel effect to the proceedings. Songs touch on a variety of topics, from a dying AIDS patient to a former Vietnam veteran in "A Prayer," which is well performed but relies too much on the harmonies throughout. "Praise Song for a New Day" heads into an attractive folk-gospel domain, perhaps the high point of this uplifting bunch. "Allende," with another guest vocalist, is another strong pop-oriented number. Far from a traditional gospel album, the upbeat nature of Zero Church is refreshingly new.

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