Marvin Sapp I Win

Marvin Sapp is unquestionably one of the leading figures in new gospel music. While the mere mention of this genre often elicits shudders from the hip and/or secular, Sapp is well worth investigating. His sturdy vocals are as evocative as they are acrobatic, sure to win over new fans who can get past (or, better yet, into) the church-grounded aesthetic of his work. Often reaching alarming heights of devotional fervour, Sapp unleashes hoarse, white-hot torrents of shouted melisma, sounding like he's pushed his larynx to the brink of destruction, before swooping down to a gorgeous near-whisper. While his robust, athletic tenor is the foundation of his music, his choral support is bold and uplifting, elevating his feverish cries. His band, despite often being conspicuously virtuosic, navigate hairpin harmonic changes and crisp rhythmic flourishes with soulful musicality, especially when things get funkier. As with previous Sapp discs, there are particular moments, like "Deeper," which tend towards the over-smooth and maudlin, but ultimately Sapp's positivity and overwhelming emotional presence are utterly contagious and I Win is one of his most accessible and joyous releases to date. (Verity)