Adrianne Archie’s HSMS Album Does A Body Good

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    Singer/songwriter Adrianne Archie started 2004 with a bang. Drawing from rich influences like Kim Burrell, Erykah Badu, and D’Angelo, she carved a unique niche with her debut album He That Hath An Ear, Let Him Hear. The independent release garnered rave reviews and was a #1 selling release at CD Baby. After touring domestically and overseas, the Louisville, KY native returned with the holiday release Warm Winter. Rather than make another investment in music ministry, she opted to invest in herself. Adrianne put her career on hold to go to seminary, earning a master’s degree in Christian Education in the fall of 2009.

    HSMS_smallThe move proved an effective muse as one can easily hear on Heart Soul Mind & Strength, her sophomore release proper. Though the ebullient collection of 17 songs keeps close to a jazz-savvy core of R&B, hip-hop and neo-soul, HSMS grabs the gospel and ventures bravely into go-go and dance territory with some exciting results.

    The album’s title comes was taken from a passage in Luke 10:

    “He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    To that effect, Adrianne’s mission is to promote holistic living through healthy relationships with both God and man.

    WHY NOT TAKE A CHANCE?

    Heart Soul Mind & Strength launches out boldly with the embraceable opening track “Also” where Archie enumerates the many ways God’s glory and creativity appear in the Earth. Don’t be misled by the twinkly, atmospheric intro though. “Also” quickly grows into a funky, spacey gem with a fluid, Moogish bass line percolating perpetually beneath.

    The mid-tempo single “Strong” starts like the first thrilling dive of a rollercoaster. It roars out of the gate blooming with a cluster of Archie’s vocals and a kick-clap combo as wide as anything Zapp & Roger ever recorded. The slinky banger stays sparse with the exception of the perforated bassline that caps each phrase and starts the rollercoaster ride all over again. A catchy reference to Isaiah 40:28 in the lyrics assures that the song is as good for your spirit as it is for the subs in your car.

    The lead single “Extra Credit” is a neatly fashioned guitar-driven winner that gives a cute wink to the Bacharach/David classic “Don’t Make Me Over” during the verses. Archie’s trademark contrapuntal backgrounds wind playfully through and around her lead vocal as she guarantees God that he’ll get all the praise due in every situation.

    When in ballad mode, Adrianne handles relaxed numbers like “Friends” and “Word & Testimony” gently. The latter provides an early peak on the album sequence as Archie’s voice lifts confidently into a tender, flute-like upper register.

    By contrast, “Love” takes no prisoners entering with a stomping straight-ahead beat. The verses exhale with slow color-shifting chord changes, the handiwork of longtime musical collaborator Joel Goodwin who places his indelible stamp on each of Archie’s albums. “Love” also reaches back to her debut to reprise “Why Not Take A Chance” and invite her best friend Monique back for another cameo.

    A highlight in the 4th quarter of Heart Soul Mind & Strength is “Sad,” a matter-of-factly delivered exhortation that gives a few really good reasons to choose joy. Hinging on a few unassuming piano chords, electrified fretless bass, and a lone rim shot, you can’t help but pay attention to Archie as she adopts a humorous preach-speak tone throughout.

    “School stresses me out. All these classes. Went from wanting straight A’s to wanting passes… The workload is heavy. The market isn’t steady. If they lay me off, I hope I’m ready. Employment? I got some. And it’s been payin’ me in this recession. I don’t want to be sad!”

    POP ROCKS

    Midway through, HSMS shifts gears from jazzy neo-soul to hard-thumping electronica. “All I Need Is Love,” “Nothing for Something,” and the ironically hypersonic “Slow Down” make an application of 1 Corinthians 9:22 that is to be applauded. The title track of He That Hath An Ear, Let Him Hear flirted briefly with dance music. HSMS, however, jumps into it head first and presents a woman hungry to step onto rarely tread upon ground in order to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Go Pop” is an Outkast-dusted rave-up focused in its intent to keep the gospel relevant. She also keeps it fun while taking to task anyone who might still be uncomfortable with the gospel moving outside of traditional channels. She sings, “It’s evident that this record’s meant to draw you into this call… You can testify that that hymn’s no lie, but what’cha gon’ do when the girl go pop?”

    Before the change of pace can become old hat, the album switches back into chill mode with the easy, breezy title track “HSMS.” When Adrianne takes off her singer’s hat to rap each of the verses, she reminds you just a little bit of Lauryn Hill with a unique twist. The song’s sunshiny swagger makes you pull out your best two-step and rock with it. [A LITTLE TIP: If you put it on repeat, you can have the whole kitchen clean before you know it.]

    Adrianne picks up the pace but keeps her swag on “Got Paid.” This funky, funny narrative tells a testimony of being convicted to salvation by a text message received while dancing the night away at a club. “Three Things” keeps the club vibe poppin’. While Joel fashions beats that nearly peak the meter, Adrianne lays out God’s essential requirements for his people. Now that’s a match made in Heaven.

    GET WITH A GOOD THING

    As the music industry gets more homogenized, people are bound to look for innovation among independent talent. Adrianne Archie is a great example of such an artist. Her mission is clear and she is a true talent that everyone should hear. Moreover, as African-Americans, Archie’s message imploring us to take as good care of our bodies as we do our spirits is one that needs to be heard. So give HSMS a listen. Hey, and if you buy two and give one away, it’ll be good for you both.

    You can purchase Heart Soul Mind & Strength online at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon.com, and other retailers. For booking, management, and other info on Adrianne Archie, visit her website AdrianneArchie.com. Also check out the following spots online:

    Written by Mark Chappelle Coston for Elev8.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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