STYLE: R&B RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 127931-19664 LABEL: Fervent 080688852122 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2012-10-08 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Andy Cooper
Saying farewell to Pablo, Group 1 Crew is now a duo, but they seem to be none the worse for it. They can still make a hip-hop-tinged R&B album of considerable impact. 'Fearless' starts with a triumphant sounding strings and piano motif before Manwell's pure pop vocal grabs your attention. And then Blanca's harmonised vocal instantly injects enough energy and optimism to get even a blue whale to bop. The production is top rate and despite using six different producers, the album still retains a cohesiveness as it flows through 47 minutes of powerful and occasionally inspiring music. David Garcia does the most production work, but Chuck Butler shows off the track chopping skills of a Masterchef champion in "Dangerous", playing around with Manwell's rap like a juggler with three sharp knives. Elsewhere, there's a balanced blend of robotised vocals to keep in the trend and real enough singing to show their humanity. At times there are reminders of the Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and even Rhianna, but not too much to smother the Group 1 Crew's own identity. There are a number of up-beat songs about God's love and care for us, alongside tracks that deal maturely enough with typical teenage topics such as parties, falling in love and depression. The complete collection is catchy enough to instantly satisfy, while containing a creative edge that rewards repeat listeners. The square that's missing from the rating simply indicates the duo have yet to find a unique identity.
The opinions expressed in this article are
not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed
views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may
not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a
Interested in reviewing music? Find out
Five-time Dove Award winners Group 1 Crew have come through a handful of challenges over the past few years as they have been preparing their new album Fearless. From the departure of Pablo to the loss of singer Blanca's father in November of 2011, to the joys and trials of being newly-weds while dealing with a constant touring schedule including the biggest tour in the world (Winter Jam 2012), Group 1 Crew has gone through it and have emerged on the other side with a message for their fans.
Fearless, their fourth studio album, takes fans on a purposeful journey to encounter the truths that Manwell and Blanca have come face-to-face with over the past few years. The title track declares the message Group 1 Crew wishes to convey on this album that "If You're with me, who can be against me? I have no reason to fear." The soaring ballad Steppin' Out reminds listeners that it's not too late to take a chance... that the Maker of their dreams will make a way if it's what He's called them to.
While Group 1 Crew takes the lyrical content of Fearless to a significant new level of depth, they remain true to their signature rap/hip-hop/dance infused style while opening the door to an entirely new fan-base through Christian AC radio with tracks like He Said featuring Chris August.