With platinum and gold sales in his recent past, Donnie McClurkin returns facing great expectations, and he doesn't disappoint.

With platinum and gold sales in his recent past, Donnie McClurkin returns facing great expectations, and he doesn't disappoint. Pastoring his own church now, he is clearly making music for the flock—albeit with a lush pop veneer and otherworldly lead and ensemble vocals that should please non-church-going folk as well. The 15 songs draw significantly on praise and worship standards, revamped with a gospel/R&B flavor that lends them new life and excitement ("Agnus Dei," "Draw Me Close"). McClurkin takes things home in grand fashion on two traditional foot-stompers ("I Love to Praise Him" and "I Love Jesus") and wraps it dueting with Kirk Franklin on the cool, retro soul of "Ooh Child." McClurkin's focus on who he is and what he does only gets tighter and more exhilarating each time out.—GE

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