This is Donnie McClurkin full-strength …His voice soars, growls, and shouts, but is also smooth, sophisticated and jazzy, often displaying delightfully unexpected phrasing.
The Journey (Live)
14 tracks / 76:38
I’m breaking one of my rules – and I blame Donnie McClurkin.
You see, I take reviewing albums very seriously – for that reason, I try to listen to a project several times before writing about it. I want to live with it, to allow it to sink in, to try hard to ‘get’ what the artist is trying to do. McClurkin’s The Journey (Live) is different. It’s an experience – the kind you don’t analyze, hold up to the light and examine. It’s something you feel. To use an over-used expression, it takes you to church, and it takes you there in a visceral, emotional ride that you can’t just step off of – and you don’t want to.
To continue breaking the rules, here’s what I wrote to Donnie’s publicist earlier today:
“…’got the album a few hours ago - this is great!
I'm about 3/4 of the way through and there's some powerful stuff here.…
I immediately grabbed the CD and put it in my car as I ran some errands.
“Great Is Your Mercy”, “Just For Me”, “I'll trust you Lord”, “We Fall Down”, and a gut-wrenching version of “Stand” ...all in a row.
Had to sit in the car until that batch ended.
Then I had to try to remember why I was in my car in the first place........ “
This is what's special about The Journey (Live): it's a fresh new experience - even though Donnie's done live recordings before. In fact, all but three of these songs have been previously released in one form or another, some on other live albums – but this is Donnie McClurkin full-strength, vital, emotional, powerful, and totally engaging. His voice soars, growls, and shouts, but is also smooth, sophisticated and jazzy, often displaying delightfully unexpected phrasing. I remember Donnie 'passing the torch' at a label launch in New York, saying that he would most likely not continue his singing career due to certain issues with his voice. Well, either God has healed him or McClurkin was wrong, because this recording is a gospel master-class.
The heart of the album – the middle section consisting of the songs I mentioned above – is so emotionally stirring that your spirit will be moved to the point where you'll know that the line between an entertainment moment and a spiritual moment has been crossed. McClurkin is a communicator who's unafraid of stripping down the ministerial facade to allow you to hear his soul as he breaks down that barrier between audience and performer. While some of the background singers sound a bit too polished at times, McClurkin's voice is always a visceral instrument that speaks plainly of both the pain and the exuberance that coexist in true worship of an awesome Creator.
The production is crisp and vivid and the players are tight and dynamic. The arrangements of the songs are fresh and interesting. The first track, “That’s What I Believe,” is a powerful way to start the album with intense, explosive drumming and high energy. Not one to be confined to any genre, Donnie manages to touch on traditional and contemporary Gospel, funk, soul, Caribbean/ reggae, and even a little modern pop before the album is through. The closing track, “I Will Follow You,” even has some distinctly Celtic flavor to it – and who but Donnie would find a place - in “Victory Chant (Hail Jesus)” - for a Sly and the Family Stone reference …in church?! Thank You falettinme be mice elf, indeed….
Essentially a greatest hits collection performed in concert, The Journey (Live) is the best of Donnie McClurkin performed at his best – and his best is pretty amazing.
You will go to church.