Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Jermaine Dolly – Come and Knock On Our Door

Still waiting on a song to incorporate “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” into its hook…


Thomas Inskeep: Fred Jerkins III is Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins’s brother, and accordingly, he’s had a hand in plenty of R&B smashes-cum-classics over the past 20+ years, like “The Boy Is Mine,” “Say My Name,” and “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.” But he’s also been producing gospel records over much of that time, the latest being “Come and Knock on Our Door” — which, yes, does sample the infamous theme from Three’s Company, but switches it up, using it to encouraging you to go/return to church. Dolly has personality to spare (he rose to fame initially as backup singer/hype man for gospel star Tye Tribett) and a lovely, impossibly high falsetto that brings to mind Donny Hathaway. Jerkins’s touch behind the boards here is nice and light; he knows to let Dolly shine as brightly as possible on this upbeat gospel/R&B track, and that sample hooks you in smartly.

Alfred Soto: Interpolating the Three’s Company hook is the year’s worst idea, and the rest sounds like The Lonely Island.

Nortey Dowuona: The sample is surprisingly goofy, then the rest of the song slides in, with the slick, soft bass, twinkling keys, popping drums, and the angel’s chorus led by an angel himself, Jermaine Dolly. And it feels so happy and sunny and yet still patronizing and condescending….. but that VOICE.

Olivia Rafferty: Someone took a Casey Neistat vlog to church. Maybe I watch too much YouTube, but the proliferation of “vlog music” is almost unbearable these days — the most popular royalty-free music that starts with a vinyl sample of some vague, forgotten oldie, and then the stutter, then the drop. This song differs in that it’s a gospel number, so we get moments of light falsetto and lush harmonies, but sadly they get lost under a clickety hi-hat with trap aspirations (aspirations that are never quite reached). Saving graces for this song are those little vocal instances of sweetness.

Ian Mathers: As someone not raised in a(ny) church but who sometimes still enjoys religious music, I actually vastly prefer it when the musicians are preaching to the proverbial choir; it’s a lot easier to appreciate devotion and joy than it is to listen to someone trying to hector you to change your behaviour (I may admit to feeling, in the right circumstance, like pop music is something approaching a secular religion, but no song has ever made me change my religious beliefs). To do so in falsetto over a Three’s Company interpolation that acknowledges that plenty of people who’ve left the church have done so for good reason without really providing a counterargument is… less than compelling. Which is too bad, because if you listen to something like the effervescent, slow-rolling “You,” it seems like Dolly is totally capable of putting that falsetto to better use.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Oh dear. This is the musical equivalent of a youth group pastor trying to “reach the lost” by doing something he considers hip but coming off incredibly corny in the process. The decision to sample the Three’s Company theme song is not only incredibly lame, it sort of makes this all feel like a joke. Like, it’s not too hard to envision this same song attempted by a parody artist or a sketch comedy cast. The only difference would be the inclusion of incessant double entendres to honor the horniest television show of the late 70s.

Josh Langhoff: Here’s something to either entice you or send you running for the hills. At its best, Jermaine Dolly’s album The Dolly Express reminds me of the first Big & Rich album. Like those guys, Dolly has the gift of being corny, beautiful, and maybe even arch all at once. Lacking a singing partner, Dolly multitracks his own voice into multitudes, then invites more multitudes of every race and creed to party with him and share in his extended train metaphors. He also finds deep pockets of groove in unexpected places, as on “Come and Knock,” where he duets with Ray “Not That Ray Charles” Charles to entice listeners to church. Volumes of despondent ecclesial research suggest his invitation itself won’t work; but Dolly’s personality is winning enough that I, for one, would be giddy to sit in whichever service he’s leading.

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