Slinking into focus with a lustrous piano part, “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9)” sees Standard of Praise embracing a sensuous groove from the get-go whilst applying a melodic gospel prose to every enticing beat. The instrumental introduction to the song doesn’t last longer than some dozen seconds, but that’s more than long enough to get everyone in the airspace around the speakers moving to the gentle rhythm of the music on the spot. I wasn’t familiar with Standard of Praise before I got a copy of “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9)” for myself just this week, but now that I know what they’re capable of in the studio, I won’t be missing out on any of their future output as a group.
The bassline in this song is even more prominent in the mix than the drums are, but this doesn’t lead to any discordance in the grander scheme of things. On the contrary, the textural contrast here is probably what drives the music forward more than anything else – save for singer Aprille Watson’s heart-melting lead vocal. Watson is unbelievably powerful in the eye of the harmonious hurricane in “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9),” and were I not privy to information telling me otherwise, I would have assumed that this track was meant to be a vehicle from which to launch her solo career. No disrespect to the other players in this track – truth be told, the chemistry is half the reason why I would recommend it to both R&B and gospel enthusiasts this June.
Although some of their peers might have put a little more oomph on the vocal harmony in the chorus, I can understand the concept that Standard of Praise was going for here. There’s nothing worse than discovering a band unsure of their own ambitions yet stuck in the midst of a creative breakthrough, and in the case of “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9),” we instead find a group that isn’t afraid to try surreal blueprints if it suits the melodic substance of their material (which it definitely does). This group can get as experimental as they want because of the mentality they have with regards to the aesthetics of contemporary gospel, and that alone makes them quite the interesting follow in 2020.
“Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9)” comes to a conclusion as Aprille Watson’s lead vocal sinks into the ethers as if to wink at the audience, hinting that this is only the first of many amazing performances still to come. Standard of Praise are coming up against a lot of competition in the underground at the moment, but I don’t think they’re going to have a difficult time securing a place within the hierarchy of gospel groups in American right now. They show a lot of compositional strength in this single, and if there’s anything that this country needs right now, it’s something melodic to lean on. This band is bringing as much as we can handle in “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9),” and I’m eager to find out what they’re going to experiment with in the future.
The music of STANDARD OF PRAISE has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division. Learn more https://musikandfilm.com
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