Maximum Glory: The Power of God
By Steve Morley
Some folks testify with words, others with music, but Pastor Dwain K. White isn’t content to simply do one or the other.
With his vocal trio Maximum Glory, he creates soulful sermonettes that feature White’s facile pulpit technique as well as his singing voice, with substantial support from vocalists Charnette Freeman and Charron Oliver. White especially shines on the spoken segments that figure prominently on The Power of God. These verbal forays range from sound bytes between musical phrases to lengthy sections that form the basis for certain selections. The almost seven-minute Let Your Light Shine is basically a scripture reading over a simmering soundtrack, but elsewhere White mixes it up The best results appear on the opening few tracks, which indulge in creative near-chaos suggesting Parliament/Funkadelic jamming with a hip-hop crew at Bible camp.
Running, a rhythmic rave-up awash in itchy guitar, sampled horn accents and jabs of jagged synthesizer, establishes a freestyle party groove before a cascading bass line clears the way for White’s booming rap: “Is there anybody here that God hasn’t blessed?”
Throughout the disc, the voices of Oliver and Freeman are employed to excellent effect as part of the musical arrangements. In fact, the female duo’s background work consistently exceeds their individual solo contributions. These opening pieces are the CD’s most buoyant and original, with points of interest so numerous and funky that they might well appeal equally to both believers and non-believers despite a clearly biblical emphasis in every lyric.
The remainder of the record, which acknowledges difficulty and expresses faith-based optimism, draws from smooth soul and gospel. The title track is a vibrant, Latin-styled mid-tempo, while a dollop of nightclub jazz is added to good effect on the elegant piano-based closer, Only What You Do for Christ Will Last.
While perhaps a bit varied for any particular audience, the disc blends the best of black sounds from the 1970s to the present and stands as a well-conceived vehicle for White’s unique style of ministry, which The Power of God reminds its listeners can be — in the hands of a mighty Creator — as diverse as one’s imagination will allow.
Morley is a freelance music journalist living in College Grove, Tenn.