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Angela Moss Poole Releases “Tug Of War”

Lately, it seems as though avoiding the buzz surrounding gospel’s burgeoning underground is just about impossible. From one end of the scene to the next, artists of many genres are starting to get the world excited about gospel music in the modern era, with players like Angela Moss Poole leading the way through bold experimentation. Poole’s latest single, “Tug Of War,” is probably the most eclectic in construction she’s ever released, but thanks to the marvelous arrangement it boasts, it’s hardly inaccessible to the pop masses. It’s a fantastic addition to her discography, and possibly the best song her scene has released in the better part of the last year or so. 

This arrangement complements the warmth of Angela Moss Poole’s singing beautifully, and though this is mostly stylized around the needs of the lyricism, the former fits into the model seamlessly. She’s got so much elegance in her management of the tandem harmony in the chorus, and yet she’s never stealing any of the thunder away from her instrumental counterpart. There’s an equilibrium, a mutual respect if you will, between these two that you can’t force or bring to life through artificial means.  Poole and her backing band are on the same page, and that’s a lot harder to find in this industry than some might assume. 

There’s not a lot of breathing room in this mix, but I can understand what our leading lady was looking to achieve by going with an especially tight arrangement of instruments in “Tug Of War.” For one, her adherence to a fairly efficient song structure is a far cry from what many of her American adult contemporary and CCM peers have been toying with lately. If the goal was to distinguish herself from the competition, she certainly can’t be accused of doing a halfhearted job in this single at all. 

The drums didn’t need quite as much physicality here as they were ultimately afforded, but I suppose it adds to the memorability of the underlying groove in “Tug Of War” just the same. Compositional integrity is something of paramount importance to Angela Moss Poole, otherwise, I don’t think she would put as much effort into making this music as sonically provocative as she does. This is a good example of what astute songcraft can produce when there’s nothing to come between artist and audience, and it’s a decent formula Poole’s young followers both in and outside of this industry could stand to learn something from. 

I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about the gospel beat in the last few months, and after getting a taste of this latest hit from Angela Moss Poole, I understand what all of the mainstream hype has been about. This acclaimed singer/songwriter is punching out some of the swankiest harmonies of the year to date in “Tug Of War,” and Poole finds a way to give up one of the best signature vocals at the microphone I’ve heard from a purely indie player in years. There’s still a long road of creative ambitiousness ahead of her, but right now, I think referring to Angela Moss Poole as one of this genre’s most promising voices would be more than fair. 

Mindy McCall



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