The once (and perhaps future) king of gospel R&B stomp delivers his strongest showing in a decade with his 11th record, Hello Fear. Despite the title track’s super-cheesy self-help vibe—it’s a break-up song delivered to an emotion, get it?—it nonetheless is a pretty great track. That's due to Franklin’s sophisticated, stripped-down arrangement and a stellar mini-chorus of backup singers (featuring, among others, Nikki Ross, Anaysha Figueroa, Charmaine Swimpson, Candy West, and Peaches West) who assist on the whole album. Rance Allen, Marvin Sapp, and Mali Music guest on various other jams, but this is Franklin’s show. And he always innovates, pushing gospel into new territories. That sweet go-go beat on “Before I Die” is something you’ve never heard before, while “The Moment #1” brings it all back home with a retro ‘70s mass-choir sound, recalling the finest moments of Aretha and The Winans.