The Phantom Tollbooth

Nitro Praise 5
Artist: Various Artists
Label: N*Soul Records
Time: 16 tracks/60:05
N-Soul adds a new twist to their Nitro Praise series with release number five. They have made the CD as an enhanced edition, featuring a video by the West Coast edition of Nitro Praise, Larissa Lam, Danielle Perricelli, and JR Barbee. They have taken the best of the songs from the album and included video footage to accompany them. Also included on the CD is a video catalog introducing N-Soul's entire product line.
Getting back to the music, this is another strong release. It features eight praise and worship songs, and then repeats the eight tracks as instrumentals. This is standard policy that has worked well with the Nitro Praise series. The first track is called "Almighty" and starts out with a deep house beat, moving into the fringe of drum and bass. It is not the strongest track but puts you in toe tapping mood.
The second cut, "A Shield About Me," features JR Barbee at his best. If you liked JR on the Prodigal Sons Live CD (Fast), you will love him here. It has just enough structure to be a true praise and worship song, but enough of JR's style to be a great dance anthem. JR sounds like Heavyfoot, who was with the World Wide Message tribe on their first few CDs.  This one has already been a hit at the Christian dance shows.
Starting out very slowly but building into a typical drum and bass song, "No Other Name" has a strong funky vibe throughout. On this song, vocalist Lauren Evans has an early Whitney Houston tone to her voice. She takes over right where Gina has left off with the vocals on most of the NP releases.
"He Is Exalted" is a standard house anthem song, almost certain to bring even the most straight-laced listener to a head bobbin beat. "Peace of God" > originally from Hillsongs Australia, has been transformed with a funky disco beat by Alexander East of Sonic Boom of Love. If you have heard any of his stuff with N-Soul you will know the sound immediately.
The next song, "We Declare Your Majesty," seems to be a last-minute throw in as it doesn't have the up-to-date sound of the other tracks. The vocal songs end with JR Barbee singing (talking-yelling-rapping-singing) "The New Doxology." This style works very well on this song as the relooping of the vocals adds to the mix. Another good dance anthem song for the sanctified crowd.
This is another very good release in the Nitro Praise series, and the added fact that it is an enhanced CD only adds to the blessing. The only problems I found with this CD were the length of the songs (all under four minutes), and the fact that there are only eight songs and then those eight repeated without vocals. I have always wondered how many youth groups use these songs for their praise and worship time. Whatever, this is still a good listen and a good album if you'd like to add some up-to-date dance sounds to your musical worship times.
By Darryl Cottier (9/20/98)