Reviewed by Phil Thomson
A live recording made at the Empowerment Temple Ame Church, Baltimore. It's hard to know from this how good Nelson actually is. Best known as a songwriter here he's almost continually backed by a wall of over-reaching gospel choir who echo his every utterance. This is full volume theatrical harmony on top of sung-speech entreaty, so redolent of the mass auditorium circuit. In some cases, it is difficult to know who is drowning out who as the "concert" gathers pace. From time to time, the odd, hand-picked backing singer takes centre stage as the Purpose voices settle down to let the message flow - and there are moments when Nelson does take charge of the song, albeit a little nasally (and conveniently) on prolonged open vowel meanderings, such as in the title song. But in truth, there is nothing to get particularly excited about in either the material or the delivery. The choir, wind ensemble, organist, drummer and occasional guitarist do all the work in any case, mostly repeating the lines Nelson shouts at the audience as he struts his stuff. The closest this gets to avoiding parody is, significantly, the sensitive medley of "'Fill My Cup, Lord" and "I Need Thee Every Hour", yet even here, Nelson can't resist dramatising lyrics which speak for themselves. Live, it undoubtedly does it - the brassy and uncomplicated belting out of songs with Jonathan Nelson's name on them as co-writer. But it feels like a case of cult over content.
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