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Intercession’s Debut Album

Intercession Group

The old adage “slow and steady wins the race” certainly applies to Toronto’s Intercession. The Canadian gospel group was birthed all the way back in 2002, meaning that they are over twenty years into their career. Their first original single and music video – “Free” – dropped during the thick of the pandemic in August of 2020. That same song finally appeared as the opening track on their self-titled debut album two years later December 9 of 2022. Two years feels like a long time to wait between an album’s lead single and the album itself, but again, the group’s approach seems to be an embodied lesson on the virtue of patience. 

“Free” Music Video:

And in this case, slow and steady seems to have been a winning formula. It feels entirely too weird to call this a “debut,” both in the sense that a band 20-years-deep into their journey can hardly be said to be debuting, and in the sense that this record shows absolutely zero signs of inexperience. As a vocal group, Intercession is consistently tight in their harmonies and captivating with each highlighted solo voice. Some of the lead vocal performances here are absolutely acrobatic, including on the aforementioned “Free”, but also on tracks like “Power” and the totally unbelievable high notes that punctuate the end of “I’ve Come Too Far.” (Seriously … WHAT? How? Every question. I need answers.) The rest of the elements are equally strong, with everyone involved in instrumentation and production delivering on a very high level.

As an interesting aside, there seems to be strong parallels between this release and “Still God” by Atlanta’s Spirit of Praise in the sense that both albums are stylistically adventurous and eclectic. Where SOP’s record had moments with hard-rock guitars, trap production, and guest rappers (Nashbi) on songs like “Everything I Need,” Intercession responds with similar elements on their self-titled album. “The Light” features hard-hitting electric guitar lines underscoring lyrics pulled directly from John 1, while the remixed version of God Is Real (interestingly preceding the “original” version on the record) features guest rapper L.A. The 2nd. While just over a year separates the two albums, these parallels may speak to a broader experimental moment in independent contemporary Gospel music.

This experimental spirit is exemplified perfectly in the closing track on this album, “Up There.” A somewhat deceptively light piano intro gives way to a smoky, dark, atmospheric Latin groove that stands out distinctly from anything else on the album. This song most unmistakably highlights Intercession’s aptitude for harmony. Not only are the group vocals completely capable of handling tricky dissonances and resolutions, but the lead vocal performance is often cleverly modal, fearlessly following (or defying) the daring chord changes and playfully outlining numerous scales. While likely an outlier, I’d call this track my personal favorite from the album.

All is not forward-facing experimentation, though. The track self-explanatorily named “The Hymn Medley” represents a nod to Adventist tradition – a mix of piano accompaniment and a capella performance delivered completely absent of any drums. The inclusion of this medley early in the album’s track list quickly highlights Intercession’s quality as a vocal group. Familiar melodies and words fly by from hymns like “My Faith Has Found A Resting Place,” “Hail Him The King of Glory,” and “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” though the ample modulations, jazz reharmonization, and nimble switches between solo, unison, and harmonized vocals keep everything fresh. Some of the chord movement during this medley is stunning. It’s a clear statement that contemporary worship music hasn’t utterly rejected tradition, and that many times it is the very people who depart most fearlessly from tradition who are simultaneously most capable of preserving and upholding it. 

The Hymn Medley:

There is one oddity amidst these excellent vocal parts that shouldn’t go unmentioned. All the current promotional photos for the group feature two male vocalists – and these two can be seen on the group’s YouTube channel, actively contributing to the group’s sound in numerous clips from worship services at local Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Whether it be an arrangement or mixing issue, the male voices on this album barely stand out at all except for when they appear as solos. Granted, gospel vocal arrangement often tends to place tenor parts fairly high, and this group’s live performances do show that their guys can blend seamlessly into higher unison parts. But the prominent lead male vocal on the album’s second track (“We Need You”) doesn’t strike the ears as a recognizable voice from the rest of the album’s group vocals. The awesome 80’s-reminiscent “Just For Me” is a notable exception. Here, the male voices obviously carry the lower octave and other lower parts, which are audible. But this balancing issue may be something for the group to consider for future releases. It by no means breaks the listening experience. All the vocals genuinely sound great, and the female soloists are one of the key points of intrigue for the group. But it would be nice to hear the lower end of the vocals more distinctly sometimes.

Still, this record is a winner that hits every note between the most traditional and most cutting-edge iterations of gospel music. Intercession clearly knows what they are going for and have the breadth and depth of vision to accomplish something both grounded and ambitious. “Slow and steady” may have been the strategy that defined the group’s journey from their inception to their first album, but the phrase hardly comes close to capturing the dynamism on display here. Any gospel group would covet (in the most Christian way possible of course) the opportunity to have made a record like this, and Intercession have done it on what is technically their “first try.” I would imagine that they must see this album as proof that patience and dedication really do pay off. 


  1. Free
  2. We Need You
  3. Power
  4. The Hymn Medley
  5. The Light
  6. The Light (Reprise)
  7. Join Us Lord
  8. Just For Me
  9. I’ve Come Too Far
  10. God Is Real (Remix)
  11. God Is Real
  12. Up There

Artist Links:


Maxwell Aka is a Canadian musician and writer. He performs and records with many musicians and works as a fundraising writer for ADRA Canada.

Photos courtesy of Intercession

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