Tamela Mann, Best Days
This month, acclaimed powerhouse vocalist Tamela Mann releases her fifth solo album, Best Days, to considerable anticipation. With production by Myron Butler and Kirk Franklin, this 12-track album is a worthy follow-up to her Dove Award-winning The Master Plan (2009), offering another round of impeccable vocals over soul-stirring songs.
Best Days opens with the contemporary and playful title track. It’s a great opener, showcasing Mann’s soaring soprano and seemingly effortless vocals. The album immediately transitions into the urban mid-tempo declaration, “I’ll Hold On.” It seems almost too easy for her, as if it should have been reserved to challenge a vocalist with less vocal prowess. Up next is “Guest of Honor,” a triumphant praise song sure to be a standout favorite church worship teams, followed by the project’s lead single, “Take Me to the King.”
Beyond the song’s noteworthy success at radio (it recently reached #2 on the gospel radio charts this week, and continues to gain spins on its journey to the top), “Take Me to the King” is the sure standout of this album. Penned and produced by Mann’s long-time friend and mentor, Kirk Franklin, the song portrays the solemn and honest cry of most any believer at some point in their lives.
“Take Me to the King” transitions seamlessly into “All to Thee,” another solid hit. It’s the very type of worship ballad on which Tamela Mann shines – a moving ode to God with a relatable melody. She builds the tune like the vocal veteran she is before simply soaring to the finish.
Both “Lord, We Are Waiting,” a rock-themed praise anthem and “Here I Am,” a mid-tempo worship tune driven by electric guitar, are more Contemporary Christian-leaning than the rest of the album. They fit, though, as they’re tastefully done and demonstrate a softer facet of Mann’s often traditional-gospel perception.
Also in the mix and worth a listen: “Stretch,” an old-school gospel tune punctuated with horns and on-point background vocals, and the almost-ethereal and worshipful “Rain.” And don’t be fooled by the title of “Back In the Day Praise”; it’s anything but traditional. Instead, it’s an urban groove, led by a thumping bass and packed with intricate harmonies. Mann shines on it, offering just enough to demonstrate her versatility.
The project closes brilliantly with a nearly nine-minute performance on “Hymns: The Blood Medley.” It’s simply sublime, giving a nod to the style of music that her fans are still eager to hear from her – a collection of gospel standards like “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus,” “There Is Power In the Blood,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” and more. Just in case we’ve forgotten who she is and what she does best, Tamela Mann makes it clear with this flat-footed vocal, accompanied only by a Hammond B3 organ.
It’s encouraging to know that, as Tamela Mann broadens her artistic borders, she remains as relevant as ever in the area of music. Beyond being an in-demand actress in several of Tyler Perry’s films and stageplays, she and husband David Mann star in the TBS comedy series Meet the Browns and will soon premiere their own cooking and lifestyle show, Hanging with the Manns. She will also appear in the major motion picture remake of Sparkle, which premieres in theaters nationwide this month.
Still, Tamela Mann continues to grow in her craft. It’s clear that no energy or attention was spared as she sculpted and delivers on Best Days. Aside from what may feel like a couple of song sequence missteps, this is a cohesive project that further demonstrates why Mann deserves to be seen as one of the leading female vocalists in gospel music.