Monday, July 12, 2010

Aaron Neville: Devotion (2000)

(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )

Aaron Neville
(EMI Gospel/Tell It)

One should no more question Neville’s inclusion of such generically sentimental favorites as “Bridge over Troubled Water,” “I Shall Be Released,” and “Morning Has Broken” on what is supposed to be a gospel album than question his inclusion of “Ave Maria,” “Crying in the Chapel,” and “God Made You for Me” on what were supposed to be his mainstream pop/R&B albums. The man simply can’t compartmentalize, and when he distills his hand-picked schmaltz to its emotionally pure essence, the results can be intoxicating. Less intoxicating, if more revealing, this time out are the two songs Neville wrote himself: “Jesus Is a Friend of Mine” (which begins with him speaking, “I want to see the world through His eyes, / I want the world to see Him in me”) and “What Would Jesus Do?” (in which he sets the wristband slogan to music and urges us to “[l]et what He lived be your guide”). Rating: Three-and-a-half joyful mysteries out of five.

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