Godfather Records (2013)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
Conqueror is the debut solo album for Danielle Kelley, a gutsy singer who honed her chops as part of the New York Fellowship Mass Choir, directed by the late Rev. Timothy Wright. The choir is now called the Timothy Wright Memorial Choir, and she led its single, “God Has Been So Good.”
Kelley's solo album contains a mix of live and studio tracks. The flavor of her singing comes out best on the live selections, recorded in January 2012 at her home church, Brooklyn’s Christ Fellowship Baptist, where her father, Rev. Dr. David L. Kelley II, is pastor and she serves in the music department.
Wright’s son, Rev. David Wright, produced Conqueror and is among the live and studio musicians. He also cameos on the title track, a lovely inspirational ballad about overcoming adversities and declaring one’s self a winner and champion.
Several of the songs on Conqueror are praise ballads, which makes sense, given Kelley’s participation in the praise and worship team at Christ Fellowship. While “You Are” and “Lift Up Jesus” are conventional P&W, “Yours” and "New Life" have more character and give Kelley room to explore her vocal range, which moves from lilting trills to extroverted shouts.
In fact, nearly every slow song finds Kelley shuttling along that spectrum, putting everything she’s got into her delivery. By “Yes Praise,” she is in full evangelistic mode and sends the audience into a praise break.
"Yes Praise" is not the only traditional moment. At one point, Kelley announces they are going “old-school…just a little,” and launches into the lively congregation favorite, “Glory Glory,” the album’s high point.
Conqueror is a fine debut for Danielle Kelley, well-paced and produced.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Glory, Glory,” “Conqueror.”