Limited Edition

by: Smokie Norful

Well, as the man says, if you're going to listen to this album you'd better be prepared to get your praise on. Smokie Norful is a protege of the legendary Kirk Franklin, and musical arranger to the enormously popular Bishop T.D. Jakes. He follows up his inspiring and successful debut, I NEED YOU NOW, with this equally fresh and uplifting live set, which, in reprising several songs from the previous album, trades their layered, sophisticated production for pure energy and unvarnished musicality. Songs such as the previously urban R&B-influenced "It's All About You" are transformed into prayer meeting shouters, while "Praise Him" swaps the full-throated gospel choir of the studio set for a new, stripped-down intensity. Formerly string-heavy and ballad-like, in its live incarnation "I Need You Now" becomes a simple piano-accompanied statement of human frailty, carried by Norful's strong yet appealingly simple tenor vocals. There's also a brief Christmas ballad in the form of the ever-reliable "Oh Holy Night," LIMITED EDITION's only studio recording, that spotlights Norful's innate (and welcome) ability to convey warm sentiment without laying it on too thick.

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