I was asked to review this album and very happy to have had the privilege! So let’s dig into the SlingShot All-City Youth Conference/Strike The Rock Entertainment compilation album. Executive Producer: Ingrid Fields for Strike The Rock Entertainment, Inc.; Production Consultant: Michelle Lang…”SlingShot 2011, presented by Strike The Rock Entertainment, is a compilation CD that combines Christian music (gospel, worship, urban and pop) and spoken word inspired from the Slingshot All-City Youth Conference. Contributing artists on this innovative collection are a select group of Christian music’s upcoming young, inventive, creative worshippers with powerful voices and unwavering stances on the Word of God.”
1. Say It Loud-Bria Manaway ft Sharron Davis: Opening track to this compilation. I like the lyric “Get right church and let’s go home!” Bria delivers confident and clear vocals, I like! This has a nice up-tempo beat produced by Benji Demps, who is the major producer on this album sans a few tracks here and there. I feel like this is the anthem of the CD! It’s a great way to open the album!
2. Winner-Big Al: I have a couple of other tracks in my iTunes library by Big Al, so it was good to see a name I recognized. Big Al may not be everybody’s favorite rapper, but I really like his “southern style” lyrical flow. This track either makes me wanna get rowdy-rowdy or just be gangsta leaning chilling in a ride, LOL! Either way I’m Winning!!!
3. Like Him- Brandy Nordgren: A mid tempo pop-ish, contemporary track, but not to overbearing so that the message is pushed out. Nice vocal delivery from Brandy especially towards the end where she just seems to let it go and declare, that we need to be “more like Him.” God calls us out to be different and we have to make sure that we are living our lives to be more like Him and not like the world! What a great message! Another favorite track!
4. All Good-Angie Shields: A passionate song delivering lyrics that remind us to stick with Christ, because He’s so good to us and we are strong in Him. So there is no worry and no fear, it’s All Good! I like the music track to, it gives me 80’s pop/r&b tease, I like!!
5. More of U- Kaleb Nash: Here is a contemporary track nicely done with smooth vocal delivery from Kaleb. I like the message of the song- that there is a constant need to have more of Christ in my life. This reminds me of a track that Chris Searcy (another upcoming artist) would sing, but I like the slight huskiness of Kaleb’s vocals too! Another favorite that gives the whole album more musical integrity.
6. iGod- Tia Nache’: a spoken word track, to me out-of-place, but as I think of the album as a whole and what it is representing, it fits! I don’t know if this track was recorded live, but if it wasn’t, I wish it would have been. I feel like hearing the audiences’ response would have put a stamp of approval on it. I like her message and her delivery/flow was on point! To solidify this track, I would have liked to have at least two other spoken word tracks on here.
7. There Is Hope- Mark Wagner: This is my ultimate favorite track! From the moment the guitar started playing. This track instantly grabbed me. I love the live recording of this and Mark’s emotion and passion in this song is very well sung and very well captured and delivered to the listener. A very encouraging song, we get so down at times in our faith walk, but there is hope in Christ Jesus, so we have to keep pressing forward. My only critique is that I feel like this track is out-of-place by being on this CD, but having it here, to me, gives the album more musical credibility, so it’s a win altogether!
8. I’m A Witness- Michelle Lang: This time we hear from Michelle on vocals instead of just on song writing duty. I like how this song starts off kind of pop-ish, but finishes on a hard-hitting rock vibe! I really like the beat break down towards the end. The song starts off like it may be a little cheesy, but the smooth vocal delivery of Michelle really grabs you and next thing you know you’re rocking out!!
9. Only You- Willie Will ft. William Demps: Giving us more diversity of his skill set, Benji Demps produces this track, a gritty hip hop track that aids the honest and straight to the point lyrics co-penned and delivered by Willie Will. Really like this beat, it seems like one of the more intricate tracks produced my Demps.
10. What If- Morrissa Cole: Love the lyrics, makes me think of Casting Crowns “If We Are The Body”. This track cautions us to be mindful of our actions as Christians, because “what if we are the only Jesus people see?” A simple melody and the track is a nice compliment to the lyrics as this is definitely a song about the message. A great way to close out the album with such a powerful reminder.
Final Thoughts: At first I was going to give this compilation album a low score, but listening to it for a couple of more weeks as the tracks shuffled amongst my other gospel songs. This album does hold its own! I do like it honestly which is why I give it a solid 3 out of 5. I compared it to Jawn Murrays “Untapped” compilation and that one just edges Sling Shot out just ever so slightly! Pros: I love how the compilation came together! The best soundtrack to a Youth/Young Adult conference that I’ve heard. Actually makes me want to check out the conference. I also like the diversity of the tracks. There’s something for everyone! It has some power songs and artists: Bria, Kaleb, Mark and Brandy being my favorites. Cons: Although music production isn’t an easy task and requires much talent, creativity and skill, I do feel like some of the musical tracks are elementary and simple on this album. I am a fan of stacking, and layering of different sounds, beat breaks and change ups. I feel like amongst other albums of the same caliber, Sling Shot might can not stand up strong against them. Now I don’t think I’ve heard Benji Demps other stuff, so I could be missing out on some really good work! Overall, I believe this album accomplished what it was set out to do, give the Slingshot All-City Youth conference participants something tangible that could enjoyed and remind them of the messages that they learned. Plus it works on its own as a musical product worthy or a listen or two! Congrats to Strike The Rock Ent and THANKS for considering me for a review! For all things Strick The Rock Ent., check out the Official Website and for all things Michelle Lang, Go Here!