Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
“I Know That You’ve Been Wounded (Church Hurt)” is the opening song on I Just Want To Be A Good Man, a collection of tunes by the late Oakland-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, Pastor Wiley Champion. With its lively strummed guitar and Champion’s rich tenor, the recording is minimal; yet it’s flush with spiritual power. The track is a reminder that no matter the struggles that we’re going through, “God will make it work.”
This earnest, open-hearted spirituality infuses every second of I Just Want To Be A Good Man. Champion’s songs speak directly to our flaws and doubts, while acknowledging and accepting human fallibility. “He’ll Make A Way (Trust In The Lord)” is a simple but impactful song where Champion sings about maintaining faith even in the face of his own mortality. On “Talk To God” Champion’s strummed groove is augmented by drums and backing vocals. The performance feels loose and intimate, with Champion leading a lively call and response while advising listeners to, “Set yourself down and talk to God/ Tell him what’s on your mind.”
“In The Name Of Jesus (Everytime)” is a devotional hymn about loving Christ through all of our earthly works and experiences. The song’s subtle, syncopated groove is enriched by Harvey Lester’s dreamy electric piano. Champion’s delivery here is full of life as he details how the trials and temptations of life can be defeated by a love of God and the power of prayer. “To Be Used By You (I Just Want To Be A Good Man)” opens with Pastor Champion on guitar teaching his band how to play the song. This interesting and slightly meta moment adds another layer of intimacy to the album. It reminds us of the power of gospel music when it is used as a tool to make a sacred space wherever an instrument is played or a voice is raised in worship.