Kim Burrell | The Love Album

Kim Burrell - The Love Album

Album Review: Kim Burrell | The Love Album
By Peggy Oliver

When Kim Burrell was introduced to the gospel world on Everlasting Love in 1998, the anticipation was justified; from her fellow peers to being rewarded with the prestigious Stellar Award for urban gospel excellence. Many musicians were awed by her rich husky voice dropped an array of gorgeous colors with stunning timing and total ease. But with all the praise given by her cohorts, there bumps in the road were plenty; record deals and project gone sour to controversy to crossing over on several occasions, including several duets with jazz vocalist Harry Connick, Jr. Despite the controversies that Burrell has endured, whether fair or unfair, she still commands respect in the industry for her ministry efforts to the gospel community. In 2010, she served as a mentor on BET’s gospel vocal competition – Sunday Best and founded a new church (The Love & Liberty Fellowship Church), in which she also pastors.

Dramatically shifting gears from No Ways Tired which primarily focused on gospel’s golden standards, Burrell’s second release for Shenachie Entertainment, The Love Album, spins the love theme with songs of praise, worship, romance and inspiration. This unusual mixed bag might take the gospel purists aback. Her loyal fan base will probably soak up the thematic concept, especially because Burrell’s voice floats crafts each word with equal importance.

The Love Album Tracks in order:

“Let’s Make It To Love” – With a sixties pop edge but with a soulful kick, this song centers on persons who are ready to love and desire that friendly love touch and a smile in return.

“Sweeter” – The first single off The Love Album sways with an underlying funk groove; declaring ‘every day is sweeter than the day before.

“Love So Pure” – Framed by tasty saxophone work, this R&B ballad finds Burrell praising God for His pure love and cleansing.

“Love’s Holiday” – This Earth, Wind & Fire piece begins with an unusual twist: “God speaks. Can you hear Him? Can He hear you? I hope he hears me. I hope you are listening God.” The arrangement stays true to the sophisticated grooves of the original version.

“Open Up The Door” – Mixing contemporary gospel with a touch of country, the main lyrical focus is asking to receive the blessings of God.

“This The Way It Goes” – In a perfect pairing of modern jazz piano and voice, this track is the greatest opportunity to hear Burrell slice and dice every single note of humility and vulnerability from inside her heart: “You can make me just what I need to be.”

“Just A Lil’ More Time” – Setting the tone with a bluesy piano and guitar, the atmosphere immediately changes into a fun-filled hip-hop funk-i-fied jam. The song addresses that everyone needs some rejuvenation to fuel their love tank.

“Jesus Is A Love Song” – Burrell pays homage to one of contemporary gospel’s pioneers The Clark Sisters with one of their lesser known hits from 1986. In many ways, she echoes The Clarks stylistically with the jazz overtones and on-point lyrical interpretations.

“Love Me In A Special Way” – Reaching back to one of El DeBarge’s most dynamic hits of all time, Burrell again keeps the melodic integrity of the original version.

“Pray For Love” – This contemporary jazz ballad speaks about the biblical definition of love, including the verse from 1 Corinthians 13 about never being puffed up with ourselves.

For what it’s worth, the orchestrations for The Love Album fully suit Burrell’s jazz sensibility and honey-dripped vocal tone and her performances are usually very mesmerizing. However, there are a few questionable instances of intent of what is really being communicated; but not necessarily because she is blending gospel and secular material. The case in point is walking the fine line of addressing God amongst the emphasized romantic content on “Love Me In A Special Way” and “Love’s Holiday.” Though the creative flow is satisfactory, Burrell could have added a couple of up tempo joints to make this project a bit more balanced. Thus, I will administer The Love Album about three and a half out of five love stars.

Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene