I have always liked music and I listen to a broad selection. I did not have to hide my country CDs in some hidden place in the floor so I was never tempted to listen to country. It might strike you odd, but I do really like black gospel. One of my favorites is Kirk Franklin. He had an album out not too long ago and I decided to buy it and write about it.
His last album, Hello Fear, left a huge impression; that’s why this album, Losing My Religion, had to wait so long– it had to be perfect!
The album starts with a spoken word about how Kirk lost his religion. The message Kirk is trying to convey is that religion masks love and mercy and how it can stand in between God and us, rather than connecting the two.
So your faith never rises above minimum wage
So when it’s time to save the world
You don’t know what to say
To your brother that you love when he tells you he’s gay
Do you push him away?
Judge him down till he leaves?
Give him a gospel he hears or a gospel he sees
Love wrapped in truth is the gospel he needs
There’s room at the cross for everyone, even me
Though his words are rhyming, I wouldn’t call it rap. Really that is what Franklin does best: talking. The album is full of songs where all he does is talk in between the lines or maybe a soulful shout here and there. It is who Franklin is and it is what he does. Without his talking or shouting the songs wouldn’t be the same. You hear a beautiful verse, like in “True Story.” It’s catchy, and you hear female vocals sounding like a choir. Kirk comes in and emphasizes certain words and helps you to feel the meaning. Besides, he writes the music and lyrics and plays the piano.
As a matter of fact, Kirk plays the piano since he was 4 years old. His aunt Gertrude (who raised him) would collect aluminum cans and sell them, so she could pay for his piano lessons. By the age of 12, he led the church choir. In the meantime he is the brain behind 11 albums, several TV shows and his own record label.
The album is split up in three parts.
It starts all very positive with “Miracles,” the first song. It’s a typical Franklin song, very controlled, beautiful instruments and encouraging lyrics. The next two songs “123 Victory” and “Roadtrip” are very upbeat, talking about how God already has a plan for your life no matter how bumpy the road might be. There is freedom if you choose relationship instead of religion.
Then there is a change in lyrics. “It’s Time” (featuring Tasha Page-Lockhart & Zacardi Cortez), “Wanna Be Happy”, and “True Story” all talk about how life isn’t always easy but God is still there in those moments.
“Pray For Me” features Kirk singing with just the piano. It is very calm and quiet till he says: “Let’s pray,” and a group of male vocals start to sing the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a beautiful crescendo that will give you goosebumps if you are a goosebumps kind of guy or gal.
The last couple of songs are more about prayer and worship and the longing of being in God’s presence. “My World Needs You,” which features Sarah Reeves, Tasha Cobbs and Tamela Mann, is a beautiful song full of harmonies and with it’s 7:16 minute, the longest song on the album.
Losing My Religion has the typical Franklin sound, (lots of female vocals) but with songs like “Pray for Me” and “Intercession” where Kirk does the main part of the vocals, it adds a little bit more depth because you are actually hearing the words out of his mouth.
In the last song, “No Sleep Tonight,” Kirk is not sending us home without a challenge and that is to change the way we represent Christ and to not go to sleep before the issues are dealt with in a real way: with love and compassion.