An atmospheric instrumental melody quickly finds itself entwined with a honeysweet vocal as attractive as it is inspirational in the opening bars of “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9),” the new single from gospel outfit Standard of Praise. Out everywhere independent gospel is sold and streamed this summer, “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9)” is undisputedly one of the more grandiosity-packed gospel songs out of the American underground right now, but make no mistake about it – this is hardly an exhibition in sonic cinematics. As decadent a single as theirs is, Standard of Praise are delivering a surprisingly efficient and wholly original take on Biblical songcraft in this track, and for that I believe they deserve some legit praise of their own. Conceptualizing some of the most ancient love songs in the history of the world into modern day R&B slow jams is no easy feat, even for the most talented of performers, arrangers and producers out there, but somehow this group manages to make it look and sound all too simple.


I really like the rhythm in “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9)” as much as I do the vocal, which is saying a lot once you’ve taken the time to get lost in its hypnotic harmony with the instrumentation in the background. There’s no need for any sort of big, bloated bassline in this track; if the present bass element was replaced with additional muscularity, I think the serenade at the forefront of the mix would have been muddied and not nearly as accessible as it is in this instance. The lyrics here would breathe life into most any melody, no matter what shape or style, but when joined with the smooth R&B grooves found in “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9),” they’re all the more affective. I feel like Standard of Praise are the kind of band that doesn’t care as much about cosmetics as they do the substance of their message, and for being that sort of an act, they nevertheless hammer out as many fireworks in their aural presence as they do the pure poetry sung by the incomparable Aprille Watson.


Those who follow indie gospel are already aware that Standard of Praise are building up a lot of momentum in 2020, and it’s definitely easy for me to see why when spending even a cursory three minutes with “Strength (Song of Solomon Chapter 9).” You don’t need to be a deeply religious person to appreciate the depth that this single is boasting, but for fans who enjoy a profound relationship with God, this is the soundtrack that the summer needed more than any other. Standard of Praise have still got a long way to go if they’re going to break the mainstream, but at the rate they’re moving now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the leap from the underground a lot sooner than later. They’ve got the support of critics behind them, and now, it’s just a matter of getting their music to the right audience.

Garth Thomas 

The music of STANDARD OF PRAISE has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more