One of the most important figures in Nigerian gospel music teams up with one of the most influential figures in American gospel music and the result is Grace, a six-track EP that stings with precision and envelops with a surrounding message.
It isn’t the first time that Frank Edwards and Don Moen have worked together. One of the highlights of Edwards’ 2016 album, Frankincense, was the live recording Ka Anyi Bulie, in which Don Moen sang in clear, passable Igbo.
The friendship and mutual respect between both gospel ministers has had them share stages from Lagos to the United States and has influenced Moen to invest in singing in indigenous Nigerian languages. There is also the matter of Mr Moen’s considerable following in Nigeria that needs to be pandered to, but don’t expect a man of God to be so cynical. He does as the spirit leads.
Grace is a crowd pleasing, pleasant record that is sure to slake the thirst of followers of both artistes awaiting proper bodies of work. For Frank Edwards fans, that would be the coming of age record, Born in July, while the Don Moen faithful would be rewarded in 2017 with the second instalment of his By Special Request collection.
Grace wastes no time in deploying its most obvious arsenal. Don Moen opens the record singing in Igbo and he does so with as much energy as he mustered earlier on Ka Anyi Bulie on the EP opener, Eze Ndi Eze. The song is an update of traditional gospel melodies and Edwards settles into his comfort zone.
Feel Your Love reflects much more contemporary sounds as both men minister solemnly about the goodness of God’s love. Both voices meld easily and mix into a purely satisfying singular entity with each man accommodating the other generously and making no moves to overshadow.
You Alone is a showstopper that combines worship and spoken word prayer set to a marching beat and a blend of instrumentation while Changing Lives takes a wondrous back-and-forth approach to the massiveness of the power of God.
Grace isn’t the over the top show off that it could have been and both Moen and Edwards have been known to do splashier work on their own. The pacing is deliberate, low key and very much in the spirit. It is warm, uncluttered and at its heart, is simply concerned with praise and worship for the Almighty.
It is a good place for people who are new to the music of both artistes to begin their exploration, although it is hard to imagine anyone born in the last half century who hasn’t worshipped or sung along to one of Don Moen’s anthems.
While Wizkid is headlining iconic venues and performing to sold-out audiences, it is important to note that Frank Edwards is attempting something similar, albeit on a much less celebrated scale. Grace is great for the culture in that it helps to take Nigerian gospel and language to wider audiences. And who can ever fault that?
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