If you’re weary, feeling small, if tears are in your eyes, Jimetta Rose and friends will dry them. They’re on your side. Oh, if times get rough and friends just can’t be found, just click play on How Good It Is and, trust me, all that pain and sadness will slip away. The six song, 32-minute album is a joyful blend of gospel, jazz and soul, a true ‘70s throwback, with a chorale of voices celebrating life, love and more, abundantly. It’s one of my favorite releases of 2022.
Rose grew up in the Pentecostal church and served as a youth choir director for a time. In a sense, then, the Voices of Creation is a somewhat secular version of a joyful Pentecostal choir, leaning as it does on reworked versions of two songs from the Sons and Daughters of Lite, a jazzy soul-funk group in the early 1970s, and a Rahsaan Roland Kirk number. Rose’s three originals are their match, each possessing an ageless feel.
She formed the choral group, originally a community choir, in a rather unconventional manner. The press release quotes her as saying, “I recruited people based on their interest in healing themselves and others, not necessarily on their musical experience or being seasoned performers.” As a result, the Voices of Creation is a multigenerational group of mostly nonprofessionals—though you wouldn’t know it from the result.
The album opens with one of those Sons and Daughters of Lite numbers, “Let the Sunshine In.” It’s positivity set to song, the musical equivalent of a god ray on an otherwise overcast day. If you close your eyes, you’ll see bodies swaying in unison, hands held high, and smiles all around—or you can just watch the video.
“The spirit of you is in the soul of me,” they sing in Kirk’s “Spirits Up Above,” sharing what amounts to a nondenominational message of God’s love. And for those who’d rather sidestep religious connotations, it works on a one-to-one, humanistic level, too. (To quote the Beatles, “I am he as you are he as you are me.”) Another Sons and Daughters of Lite song, “Operation Feed Yourself,” takes me back to the late 1970s, when my parents grew an abundant garden in the backyard. The funky song’s about more than just growing your own, however: “Are you feeding yourself love or sadness?” We are what we eat, after all.
The lyrics for “How Good It Is,” an original song, could well be lifted from The Little Book of Calm, though the affirmations are far more soulful when sung by Rose and Co. “Breathe in, how good it is,” indeed. “Answer the Call,” a reworking of Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop,” is equally enthralling: “Don’t move so slowly/answer the call.”
The album comes to a close with “Ain’t Life Grand,” a celebration of the divine that’s found in day-to-day life. The modern world is often seen as a forlorn place thanks to the 24/7 propaganda that spits out of social media, “news” sources that prey on the ignorant, and the very real outrages that exist here, there and everywhere. It’s easy to succumb to pessimism and wallow in self-pity. Jimetta Rose & The Voices of Creation, however, provide a much-needed dose of joy and optimism. The light may come from within, as they sing here, but sometimes it needs a champion—and they are that.