Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Jesse Morgan, a West African contemporary Christian performer that now works and resides in California. His latest studio endeavor is ‘Give Me Faith,’ featuring guest artist Israel Houghton, and it follows on the heels of his successful last release, ‘Here We Stand.’ For fans of both independent music and the contemporary Christian community, is Morgan’s new single worth picking up? Let’s delve into it and find out.
To put it bluntly, I don’t receive contemporary gospel/Christian music across my desk often, and when I do, it’s usually generic, cookie-cutter praise music that sounds like every other popular song spinning on K-Love. The community has created a very specific, incredibly recognizable sound that its own artists struggle to break away from. That is the key component of Morgan’s music worth lauding: he sounds like he’s crafting his own style by utilizing his faith as an authentic device for inspiration. That’s what makes him excellent.
‘Here We Stand,’ his last single, was a rather good praise piece that incorporated a beautiful choral section and dynamic lead vocals. Morgan draws upon traditional gospel influence at times, offering call and response relationships between him and his musical counterparts in his songs. This is continued heavily in ‘Give Me Faith,’ his new single, which is essentially preached, rather than sung.
The best Christian music performers are also excellent pastors because they’re masters of not only the spoken word, but effortlessly intertwining it with bouts of bombastic vocals. ‘Give Me Faith’ has a polished atmosphere to it, but ultimately the track and Morgan’s dynamic with Houghton and the choir is very reminiscent of black Baptist gospel music here in the US. One can imagine him being overtaken by the holy spirit in a small church with a fervent congregation, preaching the word of the Lord through intense music. Houghton’s brief appearance on the tune is powerful, too, offering a perfect bouncing board for Morgan’s impressively well-rounded vocal explorations.
When listening to ‘Give Me Faith,’ one can’t help feel like Morgan has lived and breathed the intense faith exhibited in the track. The track feels remarkably genuine, chock-full of both musical prowess and exuberant joy. This is no K-Love single – no Chris Tomlin single – this is quality, contemporary gospel music the way it’s supposed to be done.