Camden Gospel Artist Tye Tribbett Winning Rave Reviews, Rises to No. 2 on iTunes Album Chart
Judging by the reviews popping up in recent days, Camden’s Tye Tribbett is becoming the best and most famous area musician you haven’t heard of yet. He’s a gospel singer, and even by the standards of the genre, he’s pretty full of energy. (And he’s a heck of a snappy dresser, besides.)
Now his new record, Greater Than, has dropped, and the reaction is pretty energetic, too.
Tye Tribbett, 34, is a hyper-energetic singer, songwriter, keyboardist and choir director from the Philadelphia area, and “Greater Than,” his new album and his first for Motown Gospel, is a pretty typical record heard from a distance. But Mr. Tribbett is an exceptional gospel artist, and hearing it from a distance is the wrong idea. You want to follow it closely, because its songs are righteously carnivalesque, overstuffed in amazing ways.
One after another, they’re obsessively episodic, full of parts: they might include high-impact vamps with crashing cymbals and distorted guitars; bits of heavy funk, disco, country ballads, the most featherweight R&B; variations on Rihanna and new electronic dance music; pieces of pop songwriting possibly inspired by Sting, Sam Cooke, Bruno Mars, Stevie Wonder or Parliament Funkadelic. The nine-and-a-half-minute “He Turned It” includes a minor-key waltz, a bridge interpolating the Vengaboys’ Euro-house hit “We Like to Party” and a fast two-beat stomp like a praise-break section in a service. When its elements sound like pop, they don’t act like it; time isn’t compressed, and the gestures have time to stretch out. Each part stays for a serious while, investing heavily in you.
His songs start with the genre’s raw materials — rippling keyboard parts, muscular bass runs, vigorous choral vocals — but then keep piling on extra components: creamy, Maxwell-ish neo-soul horns in “Beauty for Ashes”; oversaturated rave synths in “You Are Everything”; folky acoustic-guitar strums in “Overcome.”
Combined with Tribbett’s breathless, exclamatory singing, this frenzied variety demonstrates the breadth of his devotion: Here are all the different ways I love God, the music says. In the age of quick-cut pop, though, it’s also a strategy, a way to appeal to listeners uninspired by traditional gospel’s comparatively restrained sound.
And early signs suggest it might be working. Within hours of its release Tuesday, “Greater Than” had zoomed to No. 2 on the overall iTunes album chart, another act of victory over the competition.
You can follow him on Twitter here.