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Let's Come Together (Deluxe edition)
Artist: Kevin LeVar
www.kevinlevar.com 
Habakkuk Music
18 tracks / 75 minutes
 
It takes a lot to stand out in a genre that's flooded with product. In contemporary Black Gospel there's an awful lot out there, and much of it is in a 'live concert' format, just like Kevin Levar's Let's Come Together (Deluxe Edition) – the problem (for me at least) is that LeVar – a sincere and competent performer – simply fails to establish a strong signature sound or musical identity in this generous package. 
 
Let's Come Together (Deluxe Edition) is essentially an 'all new expanded version' of his 2008 release of the same name. This time around there are four new songs plus a bonus DVD packed with interviews, TV performances and music videos. LeVar wrote or co-wrote every song on the album and, while there are some good songs here and there, there's a sameness to the overall tone of the project.
 
As a vocalist, LeVar hits all of the right notes in a very earnest delivery. Writing for himself perhaps kept him in a vocal safety zone, though, and there seems to be little real fire in his performance. The back-up band is, once again, competent but generic sounding, playing strictly by-number and musically coloring well within the lines. Ditto, concerning the back-up singers, who sound interchangeable with their counterparts on scores of similar Gospel projects on the market.
 
Once again, as is the case all too often these days, the production is squeaky-clean and not very 'live' sounding, and littered with the usual digitally-produced percussion loops and finger snapping sounds. In odd contrast, 'spiritual' moments are included that were no-doubt meant only for the immediate crowd in attendance – hearing a 'word' directed at a congregation that I was not a part of makes me a spiritual voyeur. Uncomfortable.
 
It's refreshing when LeVar breaks away from his safety zone and stretches the genre boundaries a bit. He flirts with reggae on “Heaven Have Your Way,” uses interesting rhythms and key-changes along with hot percussion and a fiery guitar solo on the Latin-influenced “My Everything,” and really breaks out of the box on “What-cha Know About Jesus,” which he prefaces with the words, “this is something different for ya'” –  and it certainly is. Kudos to Tyler Logan, who plays guitar on this track, by the way. Still, this is three out of eighteen tracks – just enough to suggest that the artist is capable of more than he's delivering.
 
For a more visceral, challenging experience in the Contemporary Black Gospel genre, you might want to try Tye Tribbett, who's emotional honesty and musical daring makes for a truly involving experience that will engage your mind, body and soul. If you want less challenge and more musical comfort food, then Kevin LeVar offers up a generous plate.
 

Bert Saraco
http://www.myspace.com/expressimage
http://expressimagephoto.tripod.com

 
 
 
 
 

 
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