Prime Cuts: Love is in the Air, Good Times, Just Me
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Though released under the Bethel Music imprint, Dante Bowe is a man of his own when he comes to his music. Bowe's "Circles" is the follow-up to his 2017 effort "Son of a Father," the album shows growth, innovation, and a diversity. Musically, the sound harkens back to the R&B music of the early 2000s where Nelly, Destiny Child, and Ashanti were ruling the airwaves. Yet, Bowe is not afraid to incorporate contemporary rap, hip-hop and modern polytechnics into the mix. Whilst many of the albums coming out of Bethel's imprint are congregational worship anthems, "Circles" encompasses songs of worship, growing up, and about life in general.
The title cut "Circles" opens the set. With the thumping of the piano as his own accompaniment, Bowe's commanding vocal is the focus of this song that speaks of how God is with us through the ups and downs of life. "Okay," which features some spoken and rap vocals from Trevor Johnson and Lael, addresses the current pandemic and how faith is the means of our joy in such troubled times. Current single "Joyful," may not be the best song on the set, but it shows Bowe's versatility. Mixing current hip hop beats with the traditional Gospel sounds of the choir, "Joyful" shows how the two genres can work together as friends.
Bowe gets personal with "All God's Children;" he lists the people in his life who have had been changed by the Gospel. Most heartwarming is Bowe's mention of how God turned his own father's life around. Not to be missed is the touching "Love is in the Air" - a heartfelt love song to Jesus that is so good that you can't help but play it again and again. Also, fetching is the stripped down rootsy "Good Times." An ode to not wasting the time that God has given us, the song boasts some crunchy acoustic guitar lines that are a true delight. If you are into some soulful early 2000s jams, you will enjoy "Just Me" and "I Wanna Know You."
With most songs clocking in at the 2 to 3 minute mark, most of the entries are punchy without much wasted notes. Though there are a couple of songs ("Over and Over" and "Keep Going") that border on the side of the ordinary, this record is superb. It is diverse, interesting, and it also hits you in the heart. "Love is in the Air," in particular, is the bomb.