Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Debuting at # 1 on Billboard, Live from Los Angeles - Vol. 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up CD to Beverly's #1 chart-topper "He's Done Enough", which dominated the Billboard Charts for over 70+ weeks & garnered 7 Stellar Award nods including CD of the Year, Artist of the Year, etc.
Universally regarded as one of the top vocalists in the world, with a legion of ardent fans including Natalie Cole, President Obama, Patti LaBelle, Fantasia, etc, Live from Los Angeles - Vol. 2 features Beverly in her element - churching like a crazy woman!
"The incomparable Beverly Crawford is one of the great voices of our time!"Ebony Magazine.
"It seemed like only yesterday when vocalist and Pastor Beverly Crawford made noise across the gospel industry with "He's Done Enough." The powerful testimonial track from her 2007 release, Live from Los Angeles, made such a huge impact that it lasted over a year in the top ten on the Billboard gospel charts. For her work on that album, Crawford - who began her career in the mid-nineties with Dr. Bobby Jones - was recognized with her first Stellar Award for Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year in 2008. Just like its predecessor, Live from Los Angeles - Vol. 2 is loaded with vibrant vocals, surefire preaching moments and fundamental worship (think Pastor Shirley Caesar and Judith McAllister).
Live wastes no time turning on the praise jets for the first single: "It's About Time For a Miracle." "Born Again," written by Doug Williams of the Williams Brothers, and Shawn McLemore's "Everything Will Be Alright" drip with plenty of blues gospel spice. The latter features guest appearances by Shirley Murdock and the composer who seamlessly bounce their testimony off each other. Those aforementioned tracks are Crawford's bread and butter. Yet she is just as capable in oozing beauty within the several ballads on Live, such as "Serve You Well."
The rare detour on Live, "Radical Praise," caters more towards the younger audience with its bump and grind rhythms and fuzzy synthesizers. But the performances from Beverly, daughter Latrina Crawford and husband Todd Crawford still click on all cylinders, especially the trio's soul satisfying harmonies. The low points on Live are few (the ordinarily structured "For Who You Are" and the too understated "I Need a Word"). Oddly enough, there is also a sampler from Crawford's label, JDI Records, which adds ten-minutes of unnecessary padding. Otherwise, Live from Los Angeles - Vol. 2 is a welcome sequel and marks a triumphant return for Crawford, one of traditional gospel's reliable talents." -SoulTracks
"There's seems to be a lack nowadays of the flatfooted, deep-throated traditional gospel singer. It's not like gospel radio has totally abandon the Sunday morning format entirely, but I guess it's not as easy to duplicate in today's society. Beverly Crawford represents the careful balance of Southern-fried gospel and satisfying Patti LaBelle soulful antics. Her gutsy squalls and high-note ascensions are the type of vocal liberties that certainly takes a great deal of ole time religion and years of campmeeting volunteering to perfect. After landing a successful transition on the independent Los Angeles, Cali. label JDI Recordswith Live from Los Angeles, Vol. 1, garnering her a radio hit with "He's Done Enough," Crawford reprises her role on Vol. 2.
The personnel cast remains the same, and the album even paces itself in the same manner. JDI president James Roberson certainly knows that if the record's not broke, then don't fix it. So it makes sense to witness Live from Los Angeles, Vol. 2 feeling like a hearty continuation of its predecessor. Tim "Bishop" Brown, the songwriter of Crawford's blazing 2007 hit, contributes "It's So." It's a power ballad that slowly builds up and then works itself into a spell-binding vamp, sizzling with its own share of modulations and enraptured with big choir harmonies. Quartet energies are also revived on the Doug Williams-penned "Born Again." But nothing on Vol. 2 gets as juicy as her refined remake of the T.D. Jakes' track "Marvelous" - and the infectious fast-tempo album opener "It's Time for a Miracle;" the latter allowing keyboardist Michael Bereal to fire up his quick fingers and a spunky horn section to toot alongside the fiery rhythms. Adding more heat to the grill, Shirley Murdock sneaks into the reprise of "Marvelous" and squeezes whatever juice is remaining in its pulp.
Transitional slower tracks are also part of the album's enjoyable features. It's not the meat-and-potatoes of Crawford's ministry, but having some down time and appropriate smoothness thrown into the mix helps even out the edgier material. Crawford composes the ambient worship tune "For Who You Are;" using a familiar tag from Donnie McClurkin's "Jesus, At the Mention Of Your Name." It's certainly the album's overlooked nugget, especially with its overall simplicity and lighter lyrics, but it allows Crawford to get some spotlight in the song writing department and to actually handle a spontaneous worship moment. Without all the big squalls and belting, Crawford finds refuge on the calm ballad "Serve You Well." Jazzy instrumentation and creamy background duties help establish the therapeutic vibes for the heartfelt dedication to servanthood ("Teach me to know your will and your way/That I might serve You each and every day/Oh Lord give me wisdom so that might serve you well").
Guests are also lined up to help contribute something different and extra to the mix (Shawn McLemore, Shirley Murdock). It becomes a family affair when Crawford unites with her husband Todd and daughter Latrina on the George Clinton '80's-inspired "Radical Praise." The family reunion overstays their visit when Latrina presents a melodically looped draft of "I Need a Word."
The seasoned gospel singer is definitely working in her element while resting in JDI's hands. Undoubtedly, JDI has established itself as a label with its own unique sound; thanks to years of hard labor designed by Jason White and Micheal Bereal. The JDI sound, familiarized best on albums by Norman Hutchins, Judith McAllister, DeNitra Champ and Chester D.T. Baldwin, seems to sit comfortably on almost anybody willing to work with them. But Crawford, a raw and exceptional talent on her own, maximizes the moment even further. It helps the more, even with the good, polished production and superb sound, to have a good dose of strong gospel cuts primmed with succulent dramatics and timeless gospel components that work." -HifiMagazine
Personnel: Erick Walls (guitar); Gailey Coward (violin); Donald Hayes (saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Arturo Solar (trumpet); John Roberts (trombone); Eddie Brown (organ, keyboards); Michael Bereal (keyboards, programming, background vocals); Gorden Campbell (drums); Camille Grigsby, Jessica Bereal, Ereck Coleman, Nicole Pearson, Nicole Carter, Madeline Mosley, Lamar Sonny, Kristen Mitchell, Zaneta Johnson, Trent Poindexter, Thomas Bereal Jr., Teenat Hikmat, Shannon Timmons, Shanika Leeks, Tracy Brown (background vocals).
Recording information: Los Angeles, CA.
Editors: James Roberson; Michael Bereal.
Photographer: Johnell Brewington.
Perhaps because this is the second volume of Beverly Crawford's Live from Los Angeles, she begins in what seems like midstride, launching the disc with the old-time traditional gospel romp "It's About Time for a Miracle!" "Come on and clap your hands," the husky-voiced singer exhorts her listeners, as if they needed any encouragement, "We goin' over to the Promised Land." The opening might have suggested a fully traditional outing, but Crawford turns to more of an R&B sound on "For Who You Are," while "Radical Praise" even employs a synthesizer. No matter what the style, however, Crawford invests her performances with energy and force. Even when she slows down for a ballad on "Serve You Well," she quickly follows it with a reprise in which she revs back up to full power. Shawn McLemore joins in on her own composition "Everything Will Be Alright," which also features Shirley Murdock, and Crawford steps aside entirely in favor of a young relative, the soft-singing Latrina Crawford, on "I Need a Word." But the traditional sound is back at the end with "Marvelous," suggesting that there's at least enough energy to fuel another volume. ~ William Ruhlmann