The genre might be gospel, but the sounds and the passion is boundless in Mike Abdul’s HALLELUYAH ALWAYS. Stylistically, Abdul uses all caps for both album’s name and the songs’ titles. It’s fitting all the more because the enthusiasm and exuberant expressionism is evident from the first note. Running 10 songs deep, HALLELUYAH ALWAYS, is a kick start from the start. While the lyrics are clearly about serving God and being a follower, the unexpected happens when Abdul and the joyous band and backing vocalists come together. The mighty voices relay a thousand rays of light.
Featuring a vast amount of Afrobeats meshed with pop and even melodic rock tones, Abdul brings a wealth of magnetism to these songs. The first track, “YOU ARE YAHWEH” sounds even a bit Caribbean-cool-breeze-like. Abdul has a vocal range that is reminiscent of Lionel Richie, Billie Ocean and Akon. The track has soothing harmonies and cheerful tones. You just feel happy listening to all these tracks, and “YOU ARE YAHWEH” sets the precedent.
From there the title track and “AMAYO” continue the grace and the inspiring vibes. In “SERVING THE ALMIGHTY GOD”, one of my favorites on the album, Abdul continues to awash the listener in a blanket of love, light and hope. As a listener, you also get a real sense that this is all genuine.
The band certainly plays with a tightness, but there’s enough flexibility happening between the notes to feel as though the musicians are not on autopilot, and they are in the moment. It all feels grand. Abdul, who has enjoyed international success as a solo artist and alongside Midnight Crew, is a gifted and natural entertainer. The listener feels both at ease and wants to follow his melodies.
“I WON’T LET YOU GO”, a live track, is just as invigorating. If you listen closely, you can hear the cascading piano and the fiery, electric guitar. But the voices of the chorus and the clapping and cheering of the audience gives this song that extra lift, an even bigger bounce. You can almost reach out and touch the energy. It overtakes you!
The final crop of songs “PERFECT IN YOUR WAYS”, “JUBILEE”, “POLONGO”, “MERRY WEDDING” and “ADURA” cast a greater, loving net. These songs might be blessed with the Christian-inspired lyrics, but listeners can take just as much warmth and love from the rhythms and grooves. Abdul has a special knack for finding colorful harmonies and creating songs that have more depth and turns and twists than you would think. It’s not just a straight pop or R&B song – these tracks, especially the closer, “ADURA” star, continue and end with an artist giving his fullest and honest love towards something.
I think the secret to really enjoying Abdul and this work is to just listen with an open mind, and more importantly an open heart. These songs might mean something different to different people – but at the end of the day, they certainly brought a smile to my face.