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The contemporary Gospel and R&B act Mary Mary made their debut when they dropped "Thankful". The 2000 record has them showing exactly what they're about with the hit single "Shackles" and a number of other tracks which have the sisters (Erica and Tina Atkins Campbell) showing how exactly they're able to get their Gospel sound over to the mainstream audiences.
This, the titular song on the album, starts the record up and begins the process of getting the act on their feet and giving an indication of the sort of music they have to offer the world. I thought that this song was a reasonably strong one and a track which is bound to appeal to quite a wide range of people with a contemporary R&B feel that was extremely popular at the time and was taking over the Pop world.
2. "I Sings"
The Gospel rapper BB Jay links up with the act in order to help them out, and also boost the awareness of Christian Hip Hop too for this track. Darkchild is on the production to this one and since he had done big things for Brandy, Jennifer Lopez and Destiny's Child around this time, it was expected that the same results would come here - and apparently they did with this very solid track.
3. "What A Friend"
Typically, the lyrics in this one refer to their relationship with Jesus and although I can't say that I really have any sort of connection with the subject matter which they deal with here. I thought that they did well to make this into the sort of song that would get over in a field other than the rather restrictive Gospel one (which doesn't really get anything in the way of mainstream exposure).
This song was the biggest single from the album and the song which enabled them to gain fame. Although in this country this song established them as a 'one-hit wonder' they did go on to do much more in their home nation, but this was most certainly the tune which enabled the process to begin. This is a powerful track with a lot of energy and is bound to draw you in whether Gospel is your thing or not.
5. "Can't Give Up Now"
This song has the sisters coming together to show just how much power they can input into a song about their longstanding beliefs and how they're unable to give up on them, in spite of the turmoil which has come along the way. It wasn't really my thing, but I thought that this slow, ballad material would be more for the Alicia Keys fan or anyone who would be into Christian music of this sort.
6. "Be Happy"
Changing things up quite a bit for this song, we find that this one has them deciding to for the type of thing which is much more conventional and straight-forward than what has been heard at various other points through the release. It's a rather general uplifting track, but I thought that it was only really average as it doesn't have the upbeat nature which will get right into the hearts of all of those who hear it from the get-go.
This one features much more of the Hip Hop side to the music as has been heard elsewhere and I felt that it was always bound to help things out and take the edge off the religious element to the music with something quite straight-forward and engaging without having to look into the lyrics for such a feel. Of course, the lyrics are quite meaningful and deep here, but weren't really directed to someone such as myself.
8. "I Got It"
The production on this one once again takes a lot from what was popular in the Hip Hop world around about that time. This certainly lifted the track, as all good beats should, and meant that it would be much easier to allow the vocals to get over with the listeners. I thought that everything was in place here and made for a very solid track as the vocalists put up a good performance and work with great material.
I, personally, didn't feel as though this track had as much going for it as others on the release did. This one sounded as though it was merely filler and added nothing to the album itself as it was just a very plain throw-together and something which is placed within the release without really serving any real purpose other than to increase the length. It may appeal more to some, but certainly wasn't for me.
10. "Good To Me"
Interestingly, this song has the two of them linking up with Destiny's Child (a more popular R&B act who were known for their Christian beliefs, but made this much less prominent a feature in the music). Together I thought that they made for a great track and one which clearly was much more about enabling Mary Mary to gain the sort of exposure that they want in the more popular musical fields.
11. "One Minute"
This one has them taking the time to sing directly towards God in a song which is all about their desire to speak on the wrong they've done and attempt to rectify these issues. I thought that this was all very predictable stuff here and they didn't really make much out of it, and so overall it lacked the creativity that you'd expect from such a recording - thus making for more average material on the release.
12. "Still My Child"
This is a song has them pulling the tempo right down so that they can go for a traditional ballad that would appeal to those into the type of song which requires an outstanding vocal performance. Although this may be the case, I can't say that I felt that the two of them put up anything near this as it was really only a pleasant one and not really anything all that special and is likely to be forgotten amongst the other tracks on the album.
13. "Still My Child" (Lude)
14. "Wade In The Water"
The album ends with this song. Of all of the tunes on the release, I saw this one to be the best example of the stereotypical Gospel sound that you'd expect this album to have. I thought that here they did extremely well to come up with something of that sort, but also something with a sound that I thought wouldn't actually push out those who aren't really in touch with the religious topics which they bring up.
I found that although this album does have its great moments, on the whole much of it is rather average and not all that special. Of course it doesn't fit in with all Gospel music in that it was able to break free of that market and reach out to the more commercial world, but truly the content doesn't differ all that much from what goes on in that field and so perhaps wouldn't really be one to look out for.
I love this CD, it isnt mine as such but my hubby got it for his birthday and I tend to listen to it more than him. Most people will have heard the song "Shackles" in the charts a month or so ago, well the rest of the album is of that callibre. I especially like "Thankful" and "What a friend". It is gospel but with more of an R&B twist to it and there are times when you could be listening to en vogue or Whitney Houston only better in my opinion. It's wonderful to have on in the background and really lifts your mood especially if you happen to be cleaning.
My daughter bought this CD so I thought I would review it. First some reason why you might not like it: - if you don't like overtly Christian lyrics (I do) or if you don't like Whitney Houston's why sing one note when you can sing five style (I don't). Now the good points: - This is very good gospel music and the lyrics are excellent, there are straight gospel songs such as "can't give up now" songs with a slight rap edge "Shackles" (the single) and ballads "Still my child". "Still my child" is my favourite track and it basically says God still loves you, even when you mess up and turn away from Him. I also like "Be happy". If you like this kind of music then I would whole-heartedly recommend that you buy it. If you liked the single but don't normally go for this style you might still like it but I suggest you try to listen to it before you buy it.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 I sings
3 What a friend
4 Shackels (praise you)
5 Can't give you up now
6 Be happy
8 I got it
10 Good to me (with destiny's child)
11 One minute
12 Still my child
13 Stll my child (interlude)
14 Wade in the wate