STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 173792-27664 LABEL: Sony Music FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Despite not having released anything for 14 years, London-based gospel aggregation the Kingdom Choir have found themselves very much in the public eye with the follow up to their 2004 debut album 'Smile, It's A Brand New Day'. The reason for the troupe's catapult into fame is of course their performance of the Ben E King classic "Stand By Me" at the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle which was seen by a mind-boggling 1.9 billion people around the globe. Naturally, that song kicks things off on the album of the same name but, putting all the hype of the wedding gig to one side, it strangely comes across as a bit perfunctory and lacking in any of the passion that the original King version carries. That aside, the rest of this collection of mostly mainstream songs (containing a general theme of love, hope and inspiration) is carried off in style with the likes of Aretha's "I Say A Little Prayer" and the latter day Dylan nugget "Make You Feel My Love" working especially well whilst numbers like "Fix You" (Coldplay), "Harvest For The World" (Islay Brothers) and "Lovely Day" (Bill Withers) fit nicely into a gospel choir setting on account each song's quasi-spiritual message. Occasionally, things stray into karaoke territory with not enough artistic chances being taken on a facsimile cover of Beyoncé's "Halo" - special mention to lead vocalist Kemi Bramwell who sounds uncannily like Ms Knowles though - but a stirring take on Labi Siffre's anti-apartheid anthem and Cross Rhythms Chart number one "Something Inside So Strong" more than makes up for this. Impressively, almost each track has a different lead singer which showcases the vast talent found within the choir's ranks and also helps to keep everything varied and fresh. With no doubt one eye on the Christmas download market, a refreshingly contemplative reading of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" closes an album that doesn't push the artistic boat out too far but contains something for everyone.
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