Nothing Without You
Smokie Norful consolidated his status as one of gospel music's brightest hopes with his sophomore set, Nothing Without You, a surprisingly broad-based collection of contemporary and traditional gospel. Listeners who are suspicious of Norful trying a little of everything shouldn't be afraid. The musician, arranger, songwriter. and community activist proves immensely skilled at everything he attempts here, starting with the opener, a horn-driven blast of affirmation named "Power." Percy Bady's "Worthy" is another success, a rousing gospel choir number with Norful leading the faithful while exhibiting as much fire and charisma as Donny Hathaway. Even when he moves into slower material, as on the traditional "I Know the Lord Will Make a Way" and the title track (featuring George Duke), Norful displays the same sure touch with his stirring, soulful tenor. There's only one nod to R&B, titled "Can't Nobody," but it's a success as well.