Gospel with a crossover appeal is pretty hard to come by, being that the very nature of the genre is to center itself on one theme and one theme alone. That said, when a singer of Rayon Baugh’s caliber comes along, there isn’t much anyone can do to prevent his music from having the kind of accessibility that makes it possible for everyone to get into his work, and he’s really letting us have the full Monty of his skillset in the new single “City of God.” “City of God,” as its name implies has a hearty religious tone, but its soulfulness easily makes it friendly to listeners of all faiths and backgrounds.
The music video puts us right in the studio beside Baugh, leaving us alone with the band to witness their passion bring the concept for the composition across the finish line. Their dedication to each other and the material is evident no matter how many times you’ve seen this kind of a process play out, and it’s obvious from where I’m sitting that there’s never a moment in which these players aren’t working towards the cultivation of a complete narrative as opposed to something focused on their instrumental identity alone.
This piano element in the backdrop of the vocal in this single is rather heavenly to contend with, but I really cannot picture Baugh building these harmonies with a full string section the way he does with the keys. He locks in on their melody and guides a powerful hook towards its blossoming moment, and although this is one of my first times sitting down with any of his original music, I get the feeling that he’s been making this kind of content since long before he ever set foot in a professional recording studio.
Mastered to give us every detail in beautiful high definition color, “City of God” is rocking an expensive production quality, and you don’t really need to be a professional critic or have a specially trained ear to pick up on the value of what we’re listening to here. Baugh is a player who doesn’t want to leave things to chance, and if getting us connected with his storytelling through the most vivid of intricacies possible was a goal, it can be said now that he met that goal in this single with flying colors.
Gospel fans who have been aching for something just a little different and more organic than what the mainstream can produce don’t need to look any further for something smart beyond “City of God” this April, and I have a feeling we’re going to hear more intriguing songs like this one from Rayon Baugh in the future. It would be a waste for this to be nothing more than a one-off for its creator, as when he’s belting out a verse to us it feels like he’s singing directly to his listeners and no one else in the world, other than God perhaps. It’s passionate, meaningful, and just the kind of gospel I can appreciate.
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