The natural instinct of most gospel singers is to be soulful, even when they don’t take direct influence from soul music per se, but for Rayon Baugh, he owes as much to the secular as he does the spiritual in his new single and music video “City of God.” Rather than putting up a big beat atop which he can create some simple but unassumingly straightforward harmonies, Baugh is getting his hands dirty and dishing out something less rigid in arrangement with “City of God,” and challenging anyone who didn’t think he was a soul man to reassess their opinion.
It’s one thing to be careful in the way you set up a lyrical climax and something entirely different to carve out a tonal counterpart to every word you sing, but as detailed as this might be, it doesn’t stop Baugh from getting a lot more complex than he actually has to in this studio session. His voice would have been enough to own the spotlight, but he’s generating a lot of energy off of the unpredictable shift in the groove that leads us away from practicality and into the arms of pure passion in “City of God.”
I liked the music video for this song right off the bat, especially because it emphasizes how emotional Baugh is when he’s singing this song to the listener. If he’s this good inside of the four constricting walls of a recording studio, I have to wonder what he could do before a crowd of people who are as eager to praise God’s name as he is. He’s got a presence that could be a goldmine in the right scenario, and it simply cannot be said that he isn’t using it for good when he records a single like this one.
“City of God” is a very immersive listen that puts us in the passenger seat with Rayon Baugh in what feels like a roaring exodus away from the mundane in pop gospel today, and whether this is the kind of music you would normally tune in for or not, I think it’s worth exploring a bit before the month of April is over. Just on the strength of his voice, this player is a star in my book, and I get the idea that he doesn’t care about the labels we assign him – he just wants to sing, and you can’t fault him for that.