7 Music: Album Review (Austin Chronicle . 06-29-98)

Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Album Review

JUNE 29, 1998: 


King of Kings

Given the fact that King of Kings is the only R&B album to be released locally in recent memory (ever?), it's also the best. Given what passes for contemporary R&B on major labels, Malachi's fourth and most recent release is better than most; the production values are no less than excellent, and with a full congregation of studio musicians (seven guitarists, four keyboardists, percussionists, horns), the sound is big, expansive. It had to be, really, because only a big old house of worship could contain the stirring, soulful, soaring voices of Austin's emerging gospel wonders, Malachi. When Cynthia Bray duets with husband Wesley on the album's second track, "River of Tears," it's instant Motor City Magic. "Keep It Alive," with its shades of Neville Brothers, "Restless Days" simmering hot like Sam Cooke/Marvin Gaye, and the lilting "Set Me Free" with Michael Goins' congas providing a tropical counterpoint to Wesley Bray's soulman supreme vocals (Malford Milligan eat your heart out) all feature superb harmonies - vocal and otherwise. Ending with the inspirational Staple Singersesque "Sweet Sounding Word," and a Cynthia Bray lead vocal, the Hallelujah inspiring "So Alive," this short 'n' sweet slice of heaven resides in the house of God, yes, but not at the expense of funk, soul, or groove. Naturally uplifting in energy and tone, King of Kings may not be as slick, polished, or as expensive as R. Kelley, Puff Daddy, or Kirk Franklin, but then good, honest soul music was always about being down-home.
3 stars - Raoul Hernandez

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