1. A Wonderful Life
Yankee Gospel Girl: The title track, penned by Jim Brady, is very smooth. It sounds, not surprisingly, like something the Booth Brothers might do (compare it with “Don’t Hang Your Head And Cry” from Jubilee 2). Brady is great at writing new songs that sound old. Jazzy piano coordinates well with (I think) an accordion.
Nate: This song is a nice way to start the album; it showcases Legacy Five’s harmony and smoothness as a quartet. The song has a soothing quality that eases the listener into the album. The lyrics written by Jim Brady tell the believer how good life is with Jesus as your guide and friend.
2. God Had a Hand In It
YGG: A cute little song about creation with a breezy New Orleans-ish swing (great fiddle). Every member is allowed to shine as they all trade off lines on the verses. Very fun listen.
Nate: This is a jazzy number that is immensely fun to listen to. I am sure the quartet had a fun time while recording this one. The verses are split among all the members of the group which makes the song even more of a fun listen.
3. Ask Me Why
YGG: A slow, thoughtful song which is IMO the best original on the project. The music is beautiful and has a slight swing, rather like what Brian Free & Assurance might do. It paints a picture of a woman who slips into a church and accepts Christ after spending her life “somewhere between doubt and believing.” As the second verse describes, she is then able to share the answers she has found with “others who are right where she’s been.” The chorus is an effective set of questions and answers:
Ask me who, and I’ll tell you it’s Jesus.
Ask me how, and I’ll say it’s the blood.
Ask me where, and I’ll take you to Calvary.
Ask me why, and I’ll tell you it’s love.
Of course, some people do require more detailed answers because their questions are more detailed, like “How can we know the Bible is reliable?” But for those who simply come broken and aware of their need for Jesus, these are all the answers they need. Scott Fowler sings the verses, and Gus sings the chorus (love his voice on this). The production is excellent. I love the instant key change at the end.
Nate: Penned by Kenna West (“Faithful To The Cross) and Jason Cox, this is probably the strongest original song on the project lyrically. There is a remarkable story behind Legacy Five recording this song. As some of you may know Scott Fowler has been a significant influence on a young girl who was a Muslim; Scott was able to witness to her, and little Hanna became a Christian due primarily to Scott’s influence. Well about ten months ago Hanna’s mom also got saved due to Scott’s influence; her husband is a Muslim so you can only imagine the difficult circumstances in Hanna and Patty’s life. Well when Scott heard this song he knew he had to record it for Patty because the lyrics just fit her story so well. According to Patty twenty four people that they know of have become Christians due to Hanna and Patty’s story! Keep praying more people continue to be touched by their story.
4. Nobody Ever Loved Me Like God Does
YGG: This is a lively Tim Parton and Dianne Wilkinson collaboration. Tim wrote the music, and Dianne wrote the lyrics. Both words and melody are very cleverly done. The production is great as well—fantastic electric guitar and brass backup.
Nate: This is an upbeat song that will have you singing along in no time. There are several influences at work in the music on this one. I hear a little country (the electric guitar being a huge highlight), and some traditional Southern Gospel (the brass produced by Steve Mauldin is also excellent). The music, combined with some fantastic lyrics written by Dianne Wilkinson, makes for a song that I go back to and play over and over again.
5. There’s Only One Well
YGG: Nate and I independently noticed that this fast-pickin’ barn-burner bears a striking resemblance to Greater Vision’s “The Only Way,” both thematically and musically (compare the chorus melodies in particular). It’s great fun to listen to and features some awesome production. Piano, organ, and electric guitar come together for a classic sound. Scott Fowler is featured on the first two verses, and Gus Gaches takes over when it changes key with some great power singing. I hear traces of tenors like Chris Allman and Ernie Haase in his voice, yet somehow he remains himself.
Nate: As Yankee pointed out, this song bears a striking resemblance to Greater Vision’s newest title song “The Only Way.” It is also quite upbeat, and Legacy Five really shines in the ensemble on the chorus. Gus Gaches takes over with power at the end making for a terrific ending. It should be a excellent live number.
6. Just Because of You
YGG: Fans of the Cathedrals will remember this slow Gaither ballad from Master Builder. The arrangement follows the original closely, with Glen singing George’s first verse. But it’s Gus’s beautiful take on Danny’s part that really makes this cut shine. His smooth, easy voice is a much better fit for this song than Danny’s “hammer tenor.” I consider it superior to the original.
Nate: This is an excellent cover of the Cathedrals song. Gus Gaches truly stands out in a big way; his voice has that rare quality about it that you do not always find in today’s tenors. While he is exceptionally skilful in ensemble work, I believe he is even better solo. His voice is supremely clear and soothing, and he alone makes this song better than the original IMO…
7. God Cares For Me
YGG: Typical jazzy Legacy Five. Nothing special to say about this track, just a cute song with fun piano and harmonies.
Nate: This is a charming little ditty that features some lovely harmony, and good power singing at the end. It is like the first two songs on the project a very fun listen. The piano playing on this track is particularly enjoyable as well. Dirk Johnson (studio pianist) is a extremely country music influenced piano player (he has played for several country acts on their studio albums) and his playing complements this song and others on this album extremely well.
8. Living In the Palace
YGG: Of all the up-tempo songs on the project, this is easily the best. Featuring Scott Howard and Scott Fowler (with Gus taking over at the end), it has a slightly progressive feel (again, very BFA). It draws from two biblical illustrations—first the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet, then Lazarus the beggar—to create a beautiful story-song about how even though these people were poor and outcast on earth, they are now “living in the palace, dining with the King.” The bridge then identifies the singer as someone who was also broken and in need of forgiveness, but will also be able to partake of heavenly joys through Christ. I just love this song and the way it sounds—the piano is gorgeous. I was especially struck by Howie’s performance here. In my opinion, this is one of his best vocals. He sounds lighter than usual. What with one thing and another, this song should definitely be sent to the radio.
Nate: This is probably the most progressive song Legacy Five has ever done (it would find itself right at home on a Brian Free and Assurance album) and it is also one of the best performances of a song by Legacy Five I have personally ever heard. It grabbed me from the moment I first heard it and it is probably my favorite song on the album. The lyrics are crafted beautifully, and paint quite the scene in your mind. The song is upbeat but still gets the message in the song across very well. This song will leave you begging for more after it’s over. There is a exceptionally high suspension at the end that sends Gus through the rafters to a high Bb with power. This song would do extremely well at radio for Legacy Five, I also can not wait to see it done in a live setting.
9. Destination Known
YGG: Pleasant country-flavored fare for Scott Howard’s voice. The title is (of course) a play on the phrase “destination unknown.” As Christians, we’re in no doubt of where we’re going. Would make a good driving song. Nice piano.
Nate: This country infused song penned by Rebecca Peck is a terrific song featuring Scott Howard. The guys have fun with this one on the chorus where there is some exceptionally close harmony singing behind Howard’s lead. Dirk Johnson once again shines on the piano. This is a favorite of mine for sure.
10. I’m Still Amazed
YGG: Not to be confused with the Perrys song, this is a fresh barn-burner. Once again, shades of Greater Vision—this time I’m hearing a resemblance to “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By.” The vigorous beat goes together with lyrics that manage to be both catchy and insightful. I especially like this two-liner:
He knew well what I was, but he saw who I could be
And from glory to glory, he keeps changing me.
Nate: Another upbeat message song, features some of the best blend I have ever heard from Legacy Five. The lyrics are remarkably well crafted and the arrangement on the track is superb,and they even threw in the chorus of the hymn “My Savior’s Love” to make a lovely bridge. They end the song on a strong note. This is Gus’s personal favorite from the project, and it is certainly one of mine as well.
11. For What Earthly Reason
YGG: This was easily the most highly anticipated track on the project. All of us couldn’t wait to hear what Gus would do with this classic, originally a signature piece for Danny Funderburk with the Cathedrals.
It not only does justice to the original. It surpasses it.
True, there’s nothing like that Cathedrals blend, so in that respect the original cut is a little richer. But Gus simply out-sings Danny. I know that’s saying a lot, but you just have to hear Gus’s version to know what I mean. If any more evidence was needed that Gus deserves a place among today’s elite tenors, here it is. I will sue if L5 doesn’t sing this at NQC. Do you hear me Scott Fowler? I. Will. Sue.
Nate: I have been looking forward to hearing Gus tackle this one for a long time. This song just fits his voice like it never quite fit Danny Funderburk’s. It is just downright tailor made for Gus Gaches, and he proves that by turning in a unforgettable performance that will probably go down as one of his best ever. The blend on the chorus is almost on par with the Cathedrals’ rich blend; Gus’s performance here pushes it over the top, and makes this cut IMO the better cut.
12. God Is Still in America
YGG: Some of you will remember that Legacy Five recorded this song last year for election day. I’m glad they decided to put it on an album. It’s a very heartening song for those of us who tend to get depressed when thinking about the state of country. It’s a great reminder of all the people who are still willing to stand for God (“A judge in Alabama… a girl in Columbine…”) and the many Christians who have continued trusting in Him even through disasters like the 9/11 murders and the New Orleans flood. However, I have to admit that the music doesn’t really grab me. It’s good, but it doesn’t quite seem to rise to what the lyric demands. “Under God” is a more memorable song along similar lines. Still, it’s a great lyric with a wonderful message. It will make a strong live moment for sure.
Nate: Penned by Ben Storie and Belinda Smith, this patrio-gospel song is particularly strong and just what we need to hear as a country that needs to turn back to God in a extremely desperate way. The vocals are excellent with Gus shining once again. The arrangement on the track while not as big as what it could have been to match the powerful lyrics, is still very good.This would be a good radio release, as songs written in the patriotic theme seem to do well both on radio and in a live setting.
YGG’s radio single picks: “Ask Me Why,” “Nobody Ever Loved Me Like God Does,” “Living In the Palace,” “I’m Still Amazed”
Nate’s radio single picks: “Ask Me Why,” Nobody Ever Loved Me Like God Does” “Living In The Palace” and “I’m Still Amazed”
[YGG: Yes, in case you were wondering, we really did come up with those separately! Actually, I technically only added "I'm Still Amazed" after seeing Nate had put down four picks to my three, but I was already leaning towards that one when considering potential radio singles anyway.]
YGG’s closing thoughts: Although I enjoyed this album, it could have been better. For one thing, I would have liked a few more ballads in the mix. Out of twelve tracks, eight are up-beat, and though all are enjoyable, most of them don’t leave a really lasting impression on me (with a few exceptions like “Living In the Palace”). Also, Gus Gaches was not featured nearly enough. George Younce said, “When you have a good horse, ride him.” Not to take anything away from Frank Seamans or any of the tenors L5 has had, but I would consider him to be their best yet. The few times he is featured just leave me thirsty for more.
The production is less grand and sweeping than Just Stand, making for a more relaxed listen. I personally enjoyed the scaled-back feel even though there’s nothing as towering as “When They Found Nothing” or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” There are a few key stand-out tracks that make the project, most notably “Ask Me Why,” “Living In the Palace,” and of course Gus’s stunning cover of “For What Earthly Reason.” I’m looking forward to seeing what other Cathedrals songs L5 chooses to go back and revive on future releases. It will also be fun to see how much more “progressive” experimenting they do. They really only dipped their toes in it here, but I think it worked well. They’re still most comfortable with a traditional style, but a little branching out never hurts! All things considered, this is a solid album and a worthy addition to L5′s catalog. Fans won’t be disappointed.
YGG’s rating: Four Stars
Nate’s closing thoughts: Legacy Five has released 21 albums (including table projects) in their twelve year career, and I own every one of them. This one certainly ranks in my top three of those 21, it may go down as one of their best… It is not nearly as big in scale production-wise (orchestration, etc.) as the label release preceding it, “Just Stand.” Instead it is almost a complete opposite (though yes there is some terrific orchestration). What I am saying is that it is much more laid back than past albums. Legacy Five has developed a brandable sound with Gus Gaches manning that tenor spot. I believe there is truly something for everyone on this album. Steve Mauldin produced it for them, and I believe he did a fantastic job, he seems to have become L5’s go to producer, and for good reason as he is very adept at what he does. I am looking forward to future L5 releases without a doubt, I would love to see them continue in the direction they are heading… A harmony rich music style, with just enough of that great quartet power singing to keep them one of the best quartets on the road.
Nate’s rating: Five Stars
Greater Vision has put out many outstanding albums throughout the last twenty years; with some excellent material lyrically and musically. The vocals have always been top notch on every album they have put out, the lyrical content is usually very solid to exceptionally strong, and the tracks whether it be a big track or just a simple arrangement has also always been strong. Their latest effort showcases all of the above aspects of a Greater Vision recording in a big way. This is the first CD of mostly all original material since Chris Allman returned to the tenor spot, and he is featured prominently throughout this whole album anchoring a sound that many have missed since he first left back in 1995. He also contributed several songs written by his pen. Another note on the technical side of things is the fact that this CD is actually produced by Gerald Wolfe instead of Lari Goss. Lari did, however, produce the strings.(and he did a stellar job as always)Below is a song by song breakdown of The Only Way.
1. He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By- The album opens with a great upbeat song that is lyrically reminiscent of My Name Is Lazarus or “He’d Still Been God. This should be a excellent live number for Greater Vision; it would also do very well as a radio single.9/10
2. Safe Within His Hand- This slower song has a country flavor musically with some extremely encouraging lyrics written by Chris Allman. This is one of my very personal favorites on the entire album. The vocals are exceptionally good with Chris Allman selling the second verse in a big way.10/10
3. No Longer Chained- This powerful song starts with a slow piano and strings intro that gives way to a more upbeat mid-tempo guitar driven sound. The lyrics (written by Rodney Griffin) are powerful (though Daniel Mount points out a historical mistake) and straight to the point, about how we are chained by our sins and how we can be “no longer chained” by accepting God’s wondrous grace. It certainly is a exceptionally lovely song. Rodney Griffin turns in a stellar performance on the verses. 9.5/10
4. I Know A Man Who Can- This song has for years been “owned” by Kirk Talley; but with this stellar version turned in by Chris Allman I have to say that Chris now OWNS this song… He put everything he had into singing his part, and just knocked it entirely out of the park! 10/10
5. The Only Way- This barn burner of a song is a typical upbeat Greater Vision. You will quickly find yourself tapping your foot along with the beat of the song, and find yourself singing along. This is one that clicked with me right away, and if you like the barn burner type songs than it should with you, as well. The lyrics are also stellar saying that Jesus is not the best way or just a good way to heaven; but he is the “only” way to life everlasting. I am looking forward to seeing this one performed live. 9/10
6. Like I Wished I’d Lived- This song serves as the projects first radio single; it is a excellent lyric written by Rodney Griffin. Chris Allman gets the feature and truly does a superb job with it; he keeps it slower and meditative. I truly enjoy this song on more than one level; I love the lyrics as it speaks to me on a intensely personal level; but it is also a very soothing song that is relaxing to listen to. 10/10
7. But God- Legacy Five recorded this song on their Live In Music City Project with Roger Bennett and Scott Fowler featured on the verses. Greater Vision makes it a Gerald Wolfe feature and slows it down a notch from the L5 version. I personally prefer L5′s take (maybe because it was live) However Gerald certainly did a superb job communicating the lyric with a passion in his voice that most singers have trouble pulling off in the studio. 9/10
8. We Still Have To Pray- Greater Vision almost always has a song about prayer on their latest albums, and this one of course was no exception. While this song is not quite as strong as “It Pays To Pray” it is still a great lyric that should speak to every christian; that even when we are in God’s will we still have to pray no matter what. 8/10
9. Eternity’s About To Begin- This song featuring Chris Allman, picks things up a bit. It is a great song about how we as Christians are watching and waiting for the second coming. The song starts out with some soulful singing from Allman that is quite enjoyable. The rest of the song is typical GV. I thoroughly enjoy the Hammond B-3 that is featured prominently in the track. 9.5/10
10. Heaven Cant Be Far Away- Greater Vision originally recorded this song on their “The King Came Down” project over 18 years ago. Well this version is similar; but in a way better. Gerald Wolfe really “sells” it this time around. You can tell he can not wait finally to go “home” he communicates a song in this vein like few singers can. I can not wait to see them stand on stage and possibly close a concert with this gem of a song. 10/10
11. Another Child’s Coming Home- This song is one of the strongest songs lyrically on the entire project. It takes a common lyrical theme (the prodigal son) and is written from the perspective of the father as he prepares for his son’s return (even though he has no assurance the son will return) It shows the fathers loving aspect in every aspect. Chris Allman does a gorgeous job singing the verses, It as if he is the father himself. 10/10
Overall Rating- 9.5/10
SUMMARY: This project is, in my opinion their very best since “Quartets” over eight years ago.They have released some solid projects since that time; but none that quite measured up to this recording. Having Gerald produce was a terrific move, he is a talented producer for sure; he also provided all the piano playing. The return of Chris Allman to the group has undoubtedly brought a breath of fresh air to the group. With his higher range, the other guys have a little more freedom with their own voices. This whole project is a joy to listen, and I would highly recommend fans of Southern Gospel music to go out and buy this project. Which can be ordered here, Or downloaded from Itunes.
When the first Jubilee CD came out; it was a very unique concept thought up by Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe and Michael Booth. Now a little over a year later the guys are back with a sequel, I personally think that this one is better than the first one; which is not always the case with sequels. I hope this review will give you insight into just how unique this CD is. There are only two singers on this CD that were not on the first; as Greater Vision and Legacy Five have both changed tenors since the first CD. Below is a song by song breakdown of this great CD.
1. Jesus Is Coming Soon- This song (featuring the entire ensemble of singers) was a great selection as an opening song. It has always been a great quartet song; but with a full ensemble of singers such as this one, it gives the song an extra punch it should go over very well live. Chris Allman has a nice power tenor line on the last part, with all the tenors really cranking up the heat to close the song. The three tenors as a whole sound great together on their repeats and Glenn Dustin as the sole bass singer in the ensemble does a really nice job with his part. 5/5
2. Sing Me A Song About Jesus- This song also features the entire ensemble, and is an old gem of a song that these guys have dusted off and turned into a great number for this CD. It features a tenor trio, and an amazing piano turnaround by Tim Parton; his talent on the keys truly never ceases to amaze me. The song is also fun, upbeat and lively it will have you tapping your toes along with the song throughout. 4/5
3. Don’t Hang Your Head And Cry- This song features the Booth Brothers; with L5 giving some background quartet vocals. This song is one of two newly written songs on this project (that features mostly older tunes) this particular song was written by Jim Brady, and the music makes it sound like it was written years ago. That however does not at all take away from the vocals or the lyrics; the harmony is unmatched from the Booths and from L5. I really enjoy this cut for sure. 4.5/5
4. I Never Shall Forget The Day- This old Speer family hit is covered very well by Legacy Five; the solo songs on this CD just like the first CD were picked with each groups strengths in mind, this pick is no exception to that unstated rule. Legacy Five takes this song and really puts a zing into it, especially with the track; it starts with some nice guitar licks and a steady quick beat that keeps that pace throughout the song. Gus Gaches in particular stands out on this one, he is a great tenor and it shows here. You will find yourself tapping your toes with this one for sure. 5/5
5. My House Is Full But My Fields Are Empty- This song is a major slowdown from the last song clocking in at just less than 6 minutes; the track is a slow one that comes close to dragging, but works very well with the sobering lyrics. I really like the Hammond B3 organ that is interspersed throughout the track of this number. It features Greater Vision with Gerald Wolfe taking the lead on the verses. This song has a message that is right down where we are at today; And these guys communicate that message very well in this thought-provoking song. 4/5
6. Undeserving-This song is the other recently written song from the pen of Rodney Griffin. It features the ensemble once and again and is a fun song that has one set of singers at one point repeating each other then asking a question and another set of singers answering that question making for a great contrast. Having a group of 10 singers definitely helps with this unique song. 4.5/5
7. When I Wake Up To Sleep No More- This is another old song that once again features the entire ensemble. In the middle of the song they feature a quartet of Michael Booth, Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe and Glenn Dustin. The Tenors seem to have a ton of fun with this one, and Glenn Dustin really stands out in a big way. This should go over very well live at their Jubilee concerts. 5/5
8. Crown Him/ He’s My king- This two song medley is done very well by the Booth Brothers, and is done completely A Capella that shows a side of the Booth Brothers that you don’t normally see. They have always had a great blend, and harmony that sets them apart in Southern Gospel; but this song really brings this out even more than ever before. 5/5
9. Everyday- This song penned by Henry Slaughter features Legacy Five. Their blend and harmony on this particular song is probably the best I have ever heard them, and that includes on their most recent project Give The World A Smile (and that is saying something). Gus Gaches is given the lead line which he of course handles with expert skill that you don’t always find singers handling their lines with. I really like this song quite a bit, and it grows on me more and more every time I listen to it. 5/5
10. When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven- This great fun upbeat song featuring Greater Vision really shows what these guys are capable of. Chris Allman is really superb on this one and the harmony is quite exquisite. Greater Vision has crafted quite a recognizable sound over the last couple of decades and with Chris Allman back they are better than ever; this song shows just that in a big way. 5/5
11. I’m Free Again- The closer like the opener features all of the groups singing in their ensemble. The track once again has a B3 Hammond organ added to the mix and is once again a welcome addition. As for the song itself it features some great singing, and features Glenn Dustin with some nice bass lines which he of course does a great job with. This song was a good choice for a closer to a great CD.
Overall Rating- 5/5
Final Thoughts: These guys have really out done themselves with this studio CD, Tim Parton did all of the arranging on this CD and he really did a incredible job putting it all together. Tim is a unique talent that Scott, Gerald and Michael obviously recognize; and that is definitely to their advantage in more ways than one. I hope that this is not the last of the Jubilee series, and if this CD is any indication of what the future might hold for these guys if they make more than hang on they are just getting started. They are taping a live DVD of this CD; and if it is as good as the first DVD then it will be a huge success. Seeing these guys get together on stage and do this live, is truly magical and is reminiscent of the magical moments that KingsGold brought us in the 80′s and 90′s. Get this CD and I can promise you that you will truly be blessed by what these guys have put together. You can order this CD from any of the group’s web-sites. Here is one location where you can order it from.
In March of this year Tim Parton posted a blog post on the Legacy Five blog that they (L5) would be in the studio starting on a new project of favorites, and they wanted fan input on which “favorites” they wanted L5 to record. Around 100 different songs were requested… They settled on three of the actual requests of fans, and picked seven others to accompany them. All ten of the songs are covers (meaning the songs have been previously recorded) They have everything from an old Statesmen song “Heading Home” to the more modern Cathedrals hit “We Shall See Jesus” This album is also departure of sorts from their last project Just Stand, in the fact that there is very little orchestration on this album. It is mostly only piano, bass and drums. Which in my opinion really brings out the blend of the singers more and this album has some of the best blend I have ever heard out of L5. This project is also the second to have new tenor Gus Gaches in the lineup. So with no further ado below is the list of songs on this project with thoughts after each one.
1. I’d Like To Say It Again- The Cathedrals recorded this song on their High And Lifted Up project. While it was not the strongest song on an album chock full of strong tunes it does fit Legacy Five very well. The arrangement is not much different from the original, with Glenn Dustin stepping up and delivering on a song that George Younce really put life into, but with comparisons aside Glenn really did do a nice job on this great song. 4.5/5
2. Give The World A Smile- The title track of the project is a big highlight moment on this CD. They pitched the key of this song just right for Glenn Dustin to really do well on. They bring out a nice warmth in his voice with this one, and it shows from beginning to end. The blend of the rest of the voices behind Glenn really give this song a nice feel. This song has been covered by many groups since it was written in 1924. However, I have never heard the extra verse that they include with this version. As a result, it makes the song last about a minute longer than most groups versions. That doesn’t leave you thinking “man I am tired of hearing this song sang the same old way.” Another thing they did differently with the vocal arrangements is having Gus take the lead towards the end, making for a nice contrast. Overall, this is a great cover of an old classic. 5/5
3. Boundless Love- This cover is not all that much different (arrangement wise) than the original, other than a new track. Gus adds some flair to this one when he takes the lead at the end. Though he does not go enormously high, he does a very nice job with his part making this song a highlight on the album. I did see them do this live recently, and it is even better in the live setting with the energy of the song itself. 4.5/5
4. We Shall See Jesus- This song has lain dormant since the Cathedrals retired in 1999. And now, a little over ten years later, the first Cathedrals heritage group has stepped up to cover it. They give it some orchestration and a big ballad feel towards the end. The most noticeable difference of course is on the verses without the powerful voice of Glen Payne. L5 gives bass singer Glenn Dustin the lead on the first verse and part of the second with the group joining him to finish it. The pace picks up for the third verse as Scott Fowler takes the lead and really knocks it out of the park. Scott is no Glen Payne, but he really does a splendid job on this verse. The group nails the chorus with power, and Gus Gaches gets a line towards the end that he does a great job with. What was great about his part is that he didn’t try to oversing it, (which is something that tenors more often than not do when given a line like that). Instead of ending on the words “Just As He Is” they ended with the words “We Shall See Jesus” with a slight pause for effect after the word “see”, which I feel was a great move arrangement wise. They don’t, however, end it on the big high C that the original did with Danny Funderburke or Ernie Haase; instead they opted to have Gus stay on the fifth, instead of taking it up sky high and ending on the big C. That was a move that some might not like, for alot of people love the higher endings and it usually evokes a bigger crowd response when tenors end the song sky high. Even though I know Gus could do it, he just chose not to with this one. Crowd response is not nearly as important as getting the message in the song across, and L5 did just that. They approached this song very respectively, and I know that George, Glen and Roger would be proud. I am looking forward to seeing them stage this one for sure. 5/5
5. Search Me O God- This happens to be one of only two songs along with “We Shall See Jesus” that feature any kind of orchestration at all on this album. There are some light strings interwoven throughout, making a nice backdrop for this beautiful song. The first three verses are sang individually by (in the following order) Glenn Dustin, Scott Howard and Scott Fowler. They all turn in nice performances. The fourth verse is then sung together as a group, and it is completely A Capella. This really accentuates the superb blend of L5. Gus takes the lead at the end, and really seals the deal on a great performance of this wonderful song! 5/5
6.Reach Out To Jesus- This song was a hit for Elvis, and was recorded by the Imperials in 1968. (H/T Wes).Legacy Five decided to take a crack at it, and in my opinion pulled it off really well. Scott Howard gets the feature and turns in what I believe is his best effort to date. Like most of the other songs on this CD, the chorus features some very nice harmonies and blend from the group.The arrangement on this song is quite different from the original.Tim Parton really outdid himself on the arranging of this song. Gus Gaches told me it was one of the most challenging arrangements he has ever had to learn, you would never know it by how the guys blended so well and nailed their individual parts. 5/5
7. Headin’ Home- This song was originally recorded by the famous Statesmen Quartet and was quite the controversial song for them in 1947. Legacy Five unearthed this old tune and breathed new life into it like only they can. This song features some very intricate harmonies and vocal arrangements. There is a nice little twist at the end in which they turn the song around and they let Gus take the lead, and he really does blend and sound good with L5, probably more than any other tenor that they have had. This is without a doubt a favorite of mine from this album; I am looking forward to seeing this one live. 5/5
8. I Always Have A Song To Sing- This song was covered by the Mark Trammel Trio on their Always Have A Song To Sing project. It seems to fit well after the slightly slower opening song with its tighter and faster pace. The song itself has an older feel to it, even though it was written recently. Scott Fowler steps out front on this one and delivers his usual strong lead, and there are some nice harmonies on the chorus. 4/5
9. Living On The Sunnyside- This song was originally covered by the Speer Family. I have not heard the original like I have on all the other songs of this album, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. With that said, Legacy Five once again has another song that features some very nice and interesting vocal arrangements. Glenn Dustin starts the song out with a slow and sort of bluesy feel. The song then picks up the pace, and Gus Gaches takes over the lead, making for a nice contrast. They really end it strong as a group. 5/5
10. I’ve Read The Back Of The Book- This cover of the Roger Bennett written hit is pretty straightforward, and features Scott Fowler turning in a solid performance on the verses. It is a new track that I really enjoy even more than the original, but the vocal arrangement is somewhat, but not fully similar to, the original. The most noticeable difference, besides Scott on the verses, is the fact that they don’t take it up a notch and hand it off to the tenor at the end. Fowler keeps the lead throughout while showing some nice range. They do end it on a nice high note (Gus ended it on either a high Bb or a High C) showing that they don’t need that power tenor tag to “make” the song. 5/5
Overall Project Rating: 5 Stars
Final Thoughts: As far as table projects go, this is in my opinion the best one L5 has ever put out, and this may be one of the best table projects put out by a major group in a quite awhile. It is right up there with Triumphant’s Intermission project, and Gold City’s Heaven project from this century. They put time and effort into producing this album, and it shows. Tim Parton produced this album and did the arrangements, and he really outdid himself without a doubt. Legacy Five has come a long way since 1999, and this album is a shining exemplar of what the group is really capable of vocally. All of the guys turn in strong performances; my only real knock with this album is the fact that Gus did not get any complete solos. But I don’t believe he is one that really minds not being in the spotlight; he just blends and blends some more. He also has a great tone to his solo voice and fits into this group seamlessly in more ways than one. I see great things for this group with Gus manning the tenor spot, and I am looking forward to future efforts from this lineup. If a table project is this good, I can’t wait for their next label release with Gus. Though he is on Just Stand, those songs were picked with Frank in mind. So keep your eyes on L5, as I could honestly see a run at the top of the genre for them over the next few years, so long as they keep putting out efforts like Just Stand (their best label release to date IMO) and now this one (their best table project to date). So if you’re at NQC this year, head over to L5′s table and buy this project! You can also order it from their website. I know you will not be disappointed!
The Dove Brothers started slowly changing their style and sound on their projects and in live concert around four years ago, well Unshakable is another step in that direction. They have fully adopted the Country flavor and sound with this project, some people will love it others will be ambivalent and some will not like it altogether. I fall on the love it side, I have a side to me that loves country music and that style, and I also love good ole quartet singing and now the Dove Brothers are offering the best of both worlds with their new direction. The lineup on this album is the same as it has been for the last five or so years. Lead singer Mcray Dove, Baritone Eric Dove, Tenor Jerry Martin and Bass singer David Hester, round out the Dove Brothers. But the big changes are the fact that the Dove Brothers now have a live band, with Devin Dove on drums, Marc Peele on Bass and Adam Harmon on piano they have arranged this album to reflect those changes so it is even more country sounding than normal. Below you will find a song by song synopsis of this terrific project.
1. Good Ole Gospel Song- This album starts out with a great cover of an old Dixie Echoes song. Mcray gets the lead on this one and turns in a fine performance. Mcray has always been one of my favorite lead singers and he proves why on this one. The group also turns in a nice performance on the chorus’s. 4.5/5
2. Ole Buddha- They cover this old Imperials hit with this number, while putting their own Dove Brothers twist on it. Mcray once again gets the feature and he does another fine job. This song has a controversial but great lyric that is right down where we are at today. 4/5
3. Hey Lazarus- The Dove Brothers went to Gerald Crabb for this great tune. Mcray Dove gives what I think may be his best studio performance ever with this song. The song itself tells a story from the perspective of Lazarus after he died and after Jesus had raised him up from the dead. This song is one of those story songs that reaches out and pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until it is over. I could see this song being their next big live hit. 5/5
4. If I Knew Then- This is a newer country sounding song that was written by Mcray Dove, it is also the Dove Brothers latest radio release. Mcray once again turns in another fine performance vocally, lyrically this song has some touching lyrics reminding listeners to hold on to everything that God has given them. 4/5
5. Preaching In Prison- This song from the pen of Phil Cross, features a nice performance from Eric Dove, who I believe is one of the best baritones on the road today. The song itself is strong lyrically which has come to be expected from Cross. This is a song that goes over very well live and should be a great concert number for the Doves. 4/5
6. King Jesus- This great song first introduced by the Oak Ridge Boys and then Won By One has been given the Dove Brothers treatment. They feature David Hester on the verses and he turns in a wonderful performance on a song that has traditionally featured the lead singer. They use Won By Ones track which fits their country driven direction perfectly. 5/5
7. My Soul Has Been Set Free- This song featuring Jerry Martin is a highlight for me on this album. Jerry is one of my favorite tenors and is also one of the most versatile tenors in the business. The song itself has a great message that should connect very well with audiences across the country. 4.5/5
8. How About You- This is an old retro Southern Gospel featuring David Hester, who turns in a stellar performance with that smooth bass voice of his. 4/5
9. I Recall- This is most traditional quartet number on this particular album, this song features some really nice harmony on the verses and chorus. The guys split up and sing separate lines that really mesh well with each other, they have been opening up concerts with this upbeat number to great success. This may be my favorite cut on this album. 5/5
10. Unstoppable- This could be the most bold song that the Dove Brothers have ever recorded. It is a cover that modern day country sensation Rascal Flatts cut and made a big hi. This song was a big hit for them on country radio, and I believe the Dove Brothers are thinking it could do the same for them in the Southern Gospel market. Jerry Martin steps up on this one and delivers on what may be his strongest performance to date. The song itself while it is not overtly christian in theme, still carries a very good message and what they are trying to portray is that God’s love is unstoppable. 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars
Final Thoughts: The Dove Brothers have been cultivating their new sound and direction since 2006, and this album may very well be the culmination of that effort. I personally like the direction that the Dove Brothers have chosen to take their group in, it gives this genre more variety which some people think we need more of and others don’t. For a quartet to take this direction is also very refreshing, the Oak Ridge Boys took this direction and well ended up well they are still one of most popular groups on the road today in two different genres. Am I saying that the Dove Brothers are the next Oak Ridge Boys… No I am not but they are the Dove Brothers and they are taking a bold new approach to Southern Gospel and this genre is better for it.
I remember hearing the Nelons sing years ago when I was just a kid. I had always loved their tight harmony and soaring vocals. So when I heard that they were coming out with a new CD I got curious. I then started hearing that this could be their best album in about twenty years, that pushed me to check into it. And well I have to say that this album could very well be their best since Get Ready. Kelly Nelon Clark with her smooth as butter alto voice, and her daughter Amber Thompson, who happens to be one of the best young sopranos in the business really make this album quite the treat to listen to. Jason Clark helps to anchor the sound… He was also a big contributor in the songwriting and producing of this album.
1. The Love Of God- The album kicks off with a great song featuring the soaring vocals of Amber Thompson. She has really developed as a singer since she was first introduced several years ago. This song helps to show her range and power as a soprano… She definitely has her mother’s vocal power, but with a younger more modern influence. This song is great upbeat number that really features Amber’s soaring soprano voice.5/5
2 . Beside Still Waters- While the title song (originally recorded by the Mark Trammel Trio) it is not a big standout number. It does however feature some great harmonies from this trio. 3.5/5
3. Goodbye Valley, Hello Mountaintop- This song gives Jason Clark a chance at a solo. His voice while not a powerhouse voice does have a nice cut to it that can be pleasing to listen…. This song has a very nice message that is quite encouraging. Once again the group has some very nice stacked harmonies on this number. Nice song. 3/5
4. There Is A Way- The first big ballad of the project features Amber Thompson. She really does a great job with this one. The Lyrics on this song are very strong. I could not get enough of this song, when I first started listening to this album. Wayne Haun did the orchestrations and they are breathtaking the Bridge features a very nice modulation up that sends this song skyward. Without a doubt this is favorite of mine on this project. 5/5
5. He Found Me- In an almost direct opposite style from the last song, this track features a medium-tempo kind of bluesy feel. Jason Clark takes the first verse, and Amber has the second. This is another highlight song that would have been even better had they let Amber take the lead on the entire song… This song is also their first single from the project. 4/5
6. Settled At The Cross- This is a beautiful song that features Kelly. Her performance on this particular song is reminiscent of some of her features from years gone by… Her voice is one of the smoothest and most beautiful alto voices in the business… She really sings this song with feeling and passion like she knows what the lyrics are all about. The Lyrics themselves, are very stirring and encouraging for any believer that has been or is going through a tough time. 5/5
7. I’m Going Home With Jesus- This classic that was originally covered by the McGruders, has been been given a modern feel by The Nelons. and they really make it their own. The song has a built-in encore that Amber totally blows out of the water, she really soars.it I love listening to this song and play it almost every day. Great number without a doubt. 5/5
8. My Tribute- This Andrae Crouch classic is taken and given the big ballad orchestrated treatment on this version. Jason Clark does a great job on his solo. They do great with this number. 4/5
9. Weep- I love this song which features Kelly Nelon Clark. After what I have been through these last three months this song really speaks to me. I play this song for anyone that tells me they don’t know what to say or do about my grief about the loss of my Mother. This song also features some of the best harmonies you will ever hear from a mixed trio. 5/5
10. Consider Me- This jazzy mid-tempo song features Jason Clark… I am not actually a big fan of this particular song… It has some decent lyrics (Though I am not a big fan of the line “Consider Me A Jesus Fan” just seems a little out of place or campy in this particular song) though it might have been a little better emphasized if Amber had carried the lead through most of it… 3/5
11. Jesus What A Wonderful Name- This song with it’s sweeping orchestration and great vocals. Is a definite highlight of the album. This may be Wayne Haun Orchestration at its best. The lyrics of this song penned by Gerald Crabb are very powerful. It finds itself a home here but would also do well in mainstream P&W. The song is just a great great song also with a nice solo from Kelly. 5/5
12. I Choose To Live- The closing song serves as a vocal debut for Kelly Nelon Clarks younger daughter, Autumn. She does a great job here on this number; her voice fits right in with the other members of the group, and she seems to mean what she is singing. The song has a nice message that is good for young and old people alike. 3.5/5
Overall Rating- 4/5 stars
Final Thoughts: Up until this point, for the past ten years I really hadn’t kept up with The Nelons. I know a lot of their older stuff, from back when they were the Rex Nelon Singers, and they had some great songs over the years, but nothing they had done recently had really caught my ear… Until this album came out. This album caught my attention from the first song until the last.Wayne Haun the head producer for this album really did a great job along with Jason Clark who had a big hand in the production process.
So with that said I would encourage you whether you are a Nelons fan or not to go out get this album or download it from Itunes.
About a month ago Daniel Mount contacted myself and several other bloggers, about doing a mega review of the upcoming Booth Brothers Album Declaration. At the time the Booth Brothers were selling pre-release copies of the new album. The official release date was slated at June 1st 2010 (today). We contacted the Booth Brothers, and they graciously provided us with copies of the new album to review. As I started listening to this album for the first time, I realized that I was listening to a landmark album that could very well raise the bar for Southern Gospel Music as a whole. And I believe my colleagues feel the same way, as you will observe below.
*The other bloggers include Daniel Mount, Wesley Burke, Aaron Swain, Brandon Coomer and Phil Boles.
Song 1: A Higher Throne
Daniel: A few hours before this CD arrived in my mailbox, I was pondering Lari Goss’s iconic introduction to the Cathedrals classic “Champion of Love.” It’s an instantly recognizable riff—and not just because it is the melody of a line whose lyrics we remember. It’s inherently unforgettable on its own merits. I was pondering whether Goss would ever offer another intro of that caliber.
Now Declaration isn’t even in bookstores yet as I write this, so it’s far too early to declare this intro iconic. But incipiently iconic or not, the introduction instantly grabs your attention. A soaring trumpet crescendo is answered by swelling strings and woodwinds. The trumpet sounds again, and the orchestra answers. The band kicks in, and trumpet, orchestra, and band set a fittingly majestic backdrop for a lyric depicting Heaven’s throne room.
Though Declaration is so full of strong songs that there will be stiff competition for radio slots, this song should unmistakably go to radio. Though it’s 5 minutes 25 seconds long, a tempo on the fast side of midtempo makes it seem to go by faster.
Wes: What a great choice to open the disc. I love the anthemic feel of this song, and right away this cut shows that the partnership between Lari Goss and the Booth Brothers is going to exceed every possibility you’ve imagined since it was made known.
Nate: Agree totally with you guys about this song. I can’t help but get excited when I hear this song. I love it from the opening to the ending. It ends with a breathtaking, sweeping, epic ending. You mentioned the beginning being a great opening stanza, but the song also ends on a great note. Great song that Lari Goss struck gold on again. And I can’t wait to see this song get staged live.
Daniel: I knew the song was good on its own merits. But not until several weeks later, when I came across the original, by Keith & Kristyn Getty, did I fully appreciate what Goss had done with the song. I should say that I rediscovered the original, to be precise, since I had already heard it. But the arrangements are so different that I hadn’t connected the two until searching for the songwriter.
Goss deserves to be named in the same breath as Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. It would take a talent of that level to take the original and give it this level of treatment.
Song 2: God Did it All
Daniel: This Ronnie Booth feature starts simply enough. A lush orchestral track featuring the woodwind section accompanies a beautiful, lilting melody about Creation. By the chorus, the song becomes a powerful statement of God’s sovereignty. The song builds into a huge ending that should equally captivate live audiences and radio DJs (though Daywind should cut the encore before singling it, as 6:10 is too long for a single.)
The melody for this Rusty Golden / Dianne Wilkinson collaboration has a fascinating provenance: Wilkinson wrote the lyric and composed a melody for the chorus. She brought up the song during a collaboration session with Golden, who proceeded to come up with a melody for the verses—without having heard her chorus melody. Then she showed him what she had for the chorus—and they realized it was a perfect fit.
Nate: This song is very well written and very well performed. I love Ronnie Booth’s voice. This song makes you take notice of just how good of a singer he really is. I love the message to this song. It should challenge you to get ready, and to tell others that “God Did It All.”
Wes: This is the first big ballad you hear from Goss and the Booths, and it doesn’t disappoint. Ronnie Booth turns in a tremendous performance. This should be a single, the length not withstanding. Actually, the Kingdom Heirs singled “He Had To Hold To Calvary” back in the mid 90s, and it was 6:01.
Daniel: It wouldn’t be more than a minute of work to cut out the encore. They’d be wise to single it without the encore (even if they leave the alternate version on the radio compilation disc for any DJs who want it).
Song 3: I See Grace
Nate: This song written by Jim Brady along with Barry Weeks and Tony Wood, is a song that the Booth Brothers have been staging for several months now. It is one of my favorites on this project. It starts with a epic sounding intro, that settles into to a great medium to fast tempo song, that is very well orchestrated. Jim Brady gets the lead on this song.He never ceases to amaze me with his vocal versatility and range, and he really shows it here. He has Michael Booth stacked above him for part of the first verse, making for some nice harmony. I love the end of the second verse that says “Those who have come through unbearable loss not defined by the past but defined by the Cross.” That is a great line that really defines this song and makes it a potential radio hit. I have been told that this song has been going over particularly well in concerts, and I can see why.
Jim Brady shared with me the story behind the song last week at the Gaither Homecoming. He got the inspiration from his sister when she told him about these cardboard testimonies that their church was doing. People were drawing out their testimonies on cardboard and holding them up in church. So in a way you could see God’s grace coming through their picture testimonies… So Jim got the idea to do a song about seeing Grace on every face, and in every life of the people they meet at every event they are a part of… And he took it to Tony Wood and Barry Weeks and they created this amazing song.
Daniel: You captured my thoughts exactly! “Not defined by the past, but defined by the Cross” is the line that defines the song. It moves it from a 3-star to a 5-star song.
Wes: I’d say either this or “A Higher Throne” should be the first radio release. I’ll agree with both of you on that particular lyric, it really makes the song’s message come alive. It’s a great reminder of the church being made up of imperfect people covered by God’s grace.
Song 4: The Gospel Song / Before the Cross
Wes: This song starts with the breathtaking acappella piece “The Gospel Song”, which features some of the most beautiful classical harmonies you’ll ever hear. There’s then a musical introduction to “Before The Cross”, which is a ballad carried by Michael Booth. It has an slight neo-classical or Celtic feel to it. Michael sings the verses solo, with the group harmonies entering for the chorus before joining in the last line of the chorus unison. The track builds toward the second verse with alternating unison, solo, and harmony lines. The Booth Brothers have always been known for their smooth harmonies, and this song gives them a chance to really showcase that trademark. The song continually builds through the bridge, key change, and repeat of the chorus all the way up to the last line of the tag, which is a soft, high falsetto from Micheal that brings the song to a soft, beautiful conclusion. One of the picks of the project to me, it’s a GREAT song.
Daniel: No question it’s a standout, even among a project full of picks. After three consecutive five-star songs, the a capella intro is a perfect change of pace.
The song itself comes from the Sovereign Grace Music repertoire. People in our genre frequently repeat the charge that Contemporary Christian Music is lyrically shallow—and there is some truth to the charge—but Sovereign Grace Music is a shining exception. While their tracks are usually too contemporary for this genre’s listeners, the lyrics are as solid as anything in Southern Gospel.
The songs come from project Songs for the Cross Centered Life (2004). “The Gospel Song” (penned by Drew Jones and Bob Kauflin) was also done a capella, as the project’s opening track, but the similarities end there. While it was done with a solo female voice on the original, the Booth Brothers’ delightful cascading harmonies are original to this arrangement.
“Before the Cross” had a somewhat Celtic feel on the original, too, and that element was captured in the Booth Brothers’ arrangement. The neoclassical arrangement, however, is unique to the Booth Brothers’ arrangement, as is the captivating high falsetto ending.
Nate: This song is without a doubt a highlight. I was blown away by the A Capella opening, the harmonies are truly breathtaking.
This may be the best Michael Booth feature since “Trust His Heart” from the Harmony album. The Falsetto ending was perfectly done… I love how Lari had the orchestration built up for this huge ending. Then suddenly it slows for that beautiful ending. Great song that I listen to over and over again.
Song 5: All Over the World
Phil: This song opens with a lively latin feel, punctuated by some brass and percussion. As the title of the song suggests the Booth Brothers bring a different style of music and bend it towards the southern gospel genre. The song is fast-moving on the verses and it really kicks up a gear on the chorus. The use of syncopation and after beat create an infectious energy that gets the feet tapping! The harmony is, as expected with any Booth Brothers material, wonderfully smooth and enjoyable.
Daniel: The first few times through the CD, this song sounded vaguely familiar, but I could not place it. I finally founded it . . . in my own iTunes collection! As it turns out, this song was originally recorded by Steve Green on his 1996 project The Letter. Green grew up as a missionary kid in Argentina and is fully bilingual and comfortable in Latino culture. He co-wrote this song with David Hamilton. I agree with Phil that, while the original Latino influence is evident (kudos for our Irish colleague for hitting the nail on the head there!), this is an able adaptation for our genre.
Wes: Are you kidding me? Only Lari Goss and the Booth Brothers would have the guts to record a Southern Gospel samba. I could actually see this song being done on an episode of Dancing With The Stars. It’s a great track, and one of the most unique arrangements you’ll hear on a Southern Gospel CD!
Daniel: “…a Southern Gospel samba.” That phrase has a nice ring to it! So is it that the song would fit on Dancing With the Stars, or could you see them learning some nice choreography?
Wes: I could see this song being performed/played for the pros or even contestants to perform.
Daniel: Oh, okay.
Song 6: We Believe
Aaron: In an orchestrated ballad very similar, both lyrically and stylistically, to “Statement of Faith” on Legacy Five’s Just Stand project, the group lets the listener know what exactly it is that they believe in. Michael Booth starts the song off, showing off a nice lower end to his voice. Jim Brady then gets a feature on the second verse, with Ronnie Booth taking the third. What’s interesting about the structure here is that Michael, the tenor, gets the lowest feature, lead Jim getting the second highest, and baritone Ronnie getting the highest. Although the song is not keyed all that high, that particular arrangement of voices intrigued me. The song builds to a powerfully orchestrated finish that Goss is known for producing.
Daniel: The solo order also intrigued me. This song is instantly familiar to long-time listeners of Inspirational / CCM radio, since it was a big hit for Steve Green in 1991. However, it has been long enough and enough people in Southern Gospel may never have heard of it that it’s time to bring it back.
Wes: This song was also recorded by the Imperials on their mid-90s album ‘Til He Comes. I, too, noticed the order of the solos, and was impressed with Michael Booth’s lower range. It’s a good song no matter who sings it, and the Booth Brothers are no exception.
Nate: I have to say that this may be my favorite cut on this Album. On an album full of great songs… I love how they did the solos, it shows the incredible versatility of all three singers. I could see this song being huge for them… I am looking forward to seeing it staged live. This is one incredible song, and one awesome arrangement of said song!
Brandon: Nate, you will not be disappointed when you see this song staged. It brought the congregation to its feet when I saw the Booth Brothers last week. I also think the song works wonderfully with the group’s focus on the scripture during their concerts.
Song 7: I Still Believe in the Church
Wes: This song is a cover of a song released by Friends IV on their CD, One Voice. It’s got a funky, uptown soul/jazz feel to it. The Booth Brothers lay down some incredibly smooth harmonies with some nice jazz chording throughout the song. Jim Brady does a remarkable job on the bridge that definitely deserves a mention. He’s definitely got the soulful sound that this song demands. I think I like the Friends IV version a little better, but the Booth Brothers do an incredible job on this as well.
Phil: This song reminded me of a more up-tempo version of the Gaither Vocal Band song, “The Church Triumphant”. In saying that, the two songs are very different, lyrically speaking. I agree on your thoughts on Jim Brady’s vocals on the bridge, the jazz style compliments the smooth harmonies of the Booth Brothers.
Song 8: Then I Met the Master
Brandon: When I first saw this song on the track list, I really wasn’t looking forward to it. I expected it to be the same tenor led arrangement that you usually hear. I should have known better with Lari Goss and the Booth Brothers.
The song begins acappella with a choir providing some background and percussion-like beats while Ronnie Booth delivers a very smooth, understated verse. As the first chorus is reached, the choir becomes a touch louder and some light orchestration and piano can be heard. Ronnie again has the solo on the second verse, but without the choir backing him. The choir is also left out of the second chorus, but returns following a bridge for the final chorus, along with increased orchestrations, to build up to the huge Goss finish.
As I said, I wasn’t expecting much, but the Booths and Goss have delivered the best version of the song I’ve ever heard. This is easily one of my favorite songs on the project.
Nate: I could not agree more with Brandon’s thoughts on this particular song. I also think it is the best version of this song that I have ever heard.
Daniel: Perhaps due in part to the family ties (Michael Booth being Mosie Lister’s son-in-law), the Booth Brothers put a Mosie Lister song on every project. Though this is one of his most recognizable tunes, they unquestionably made the right decision by putting off doing their own version until they had the chance to work with Lari Goss. This arrangement does breathe new life into a great lyric that has too often been done poorly.
Wes: I always enjoyed Jay Parrack singing this song with Gold City, but I have to agree with the others that this has instantly become my favorite version of the classic. Lister’s timeless classic combined with Goss’s touch with big ballad arrangements and orchestrations combined with the flawless voices and harmony of the Booth Brothers…you can’t ask for more than that!
Phil: Making a classic like this sound fresh and “new” is no easy task. The combination of Lari Goss and the wonderful harmony of the Booth Brothers, it truly lifts up this rendition as one of the best I have ever heard.
Song 9: This is the Day / I’m Gonna Keep on Singing
Brandon: Several years ago, “This Is The Day” made a comeback with a handful of groups recording it in a small time frame (The Perrys, Southern Sound Quartet, and I believe the Florida Boys). Most, if not all, of those arrangements featured a bass lead. Since the Booth Brothers don’t have a bass singer, I knew the group would give us an updated take on it. This arrangement is one of the few up tempo tracks on the project, which surprises me because with the Booth Brothers, I typically think of “barn burners” like “Still Feeling Fine” and “I’ve Been Changed.”
It starts out with an great kick off featuring the brass section that lets the listener know this is going to be a really fun song from the start. Ronnie and Jim trade the solos parts back and forth before a nice bridge transitions the song into two choruses of “I’m Gonna Keep On Singing”. The medley goes back to “This Is The Day” for a final chorus and ending.
On a project featuring very few up tempo numbers, this track was a welcome change of pace and one of my favorite songs on the project.
Phil: I agree about the change of pace, it was good to hear something a little different. Ballads and epic arrangements are brilliant, especially the caliber found on this project, but it’s nice to hear the Booth Brothers pull out a “barn burner” as Brandon accurately put it!
Daniel: Your memory serves you correctly—the Florida Boys cut the song in 2005, on Sing Your Blues Away.
Wes: This is a great uptempo track. “Keep On Singing” is another Friends IV connection, which is not surprising since Goss worked closely with them, and the Booth Brothers have the vocal talent and blend to pull some of those songs off.
Song 10: Absolute Peace
Aaron: This particular track of this project throws the listener a curve ball. The piano and strings intro sounds like it will lead up to a tender, stripped down Michael Booth feature, but about ten seconds, light drums kick in and a saxophone is added to give the song a soft jazz feel, and the song ends up being a group feature. The trio’s harmonies really shine here on top of the soft musical background.
Wes: I’m a jazz nut, and Aaron is right, this does have a nice light jazz feel, and really gives the group a chance to show off their smooth harmonies. It’s a gorgeous song that is a highlight of the disc.
Brandon: I agree with Wes that this is one of the highlights on the project. The saxophone and easy feel gives the track a sound that would have been at home on the group’s This Stage Of Grace project from almost ten years ago.
Song 11: In Christ Alone Medley
Nate: I have to say that this is a favorite of mine on this album. It actually combines two songs by the same name into one. The first song of this medley was written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. I actually remember hearing it when the Contemporary group the Newsboys. Natalie Grant and Lauren Talley have also recorded this song.
The other song by the same name was also originally a contemporary Praise and Worship hit song. That was a big hit for Michael English, and has also been covered by Brian Littrell and Phillips Craig And Dean, among others. In the Southern Gospel world, the Kingdom Heirs covered it about ten years ago, featuring Eric Bennett. In the Booth Brothers’ stunning version, these songs were flawlessly combined. If you had not heard either song before you would think that it was all one song.
Ronnie Booth gets the feature throughout most of this song. You would think that Ronnie’s voice would not really fit into the Praise and Worship type feel of this song, but he shows his amazing versatility here. His voice is one of the smoothest in the business, and he enunciates his words like no one else. Musically it is given a slower acoustic feel that really compliments the lyrics nicely. The Booth Brothers have covered Contemporary hits before (see “Crucified With Christ”), and here they tackle two in one and make them their own. I really like this medley and I can’t wait to see it sung live.
Daniel: In our genre, the Rick Webb Family and the Childress Family have also both released versions of the song. But after Lauren Talley released what will be a signature arrangement several months ago, I was inclined to think nobody else in our genre should touch the song.
I was wrong.
While the Booth Brothers don’t match the climactic intensity of the triumphal third verse in Lauren Talley’s arrangement, they take the song in a different direction, different enough to make it their own. There is more than enough room in the genre for versions so different—and so equally powerful.
Aaron: I was curious as to how this cover of “In Christ Alone” would sound. The arrangement itself is very similar to the Phillips, Craig, & Dean version a few years back, blending the Newsboys song with the Michael English hit. However, the big, Lari Goss orchestrated sound gives the song a flavor of it’s own. Michael Booth absolutely nails his solo phrase when the Michael English version starts, adding all the more to the powerful sound on this track.
Wes: While the two songs share a title, rhythmically they are very different, and I was a bit concerned about the transition from one to the other, but with the genius of Goss doing the arranging, I should have known better. Both the praise chorus and English’s CCM hit are incredible tunes, and this medley doesn’t disappoint in combining them. It’s one of the most powerful songs on the project.
Phil: It is interesting how two very different songs can be married together with such brilliance. “In Christ Alone (My Hope is Found)” would probably be my favourite contemporary song. I am a big fan of Michael English and his CCM version of “In Christ Alone”. To then have Ronnie Booth’s fabulously smooth voice thread the two songs together, it creates a powerful medley. This has to be my personal favourite on the project, although it was very hard to single out one!
Bonus Track (Statement of Faith)
Phil: Statement of Faith is a great song. Lyrically, as the title suggests, it sets out what Christians believe. I feel that this song, placed at the end, as a bonus track, really ties together what the Booth Brothers set out to achieve in the making of this project. They wanted to make to set out their beliefs and Statement of Faith allows them to do that.
Daniel: While the song was not on my pre-release copy, it is the same song as Legacy Five included on Just Stand (with the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, and the Hoppers)—though for Declaration, the Booth Brothers cut their own vocals for the verses.
Daniel: A Higher Throne, God Did it All, We Believe, I See Grace.
Nate: A Higher Throne, I See Grace, We Believe, Before The Cross.
Aaron: A Higher Throne, God Did It All, I See Grace, Before The Cross.
Phil: I See Grace, This Is The Day, Absolute Peace, In Christ Alone.
Brandon: A Higher Throne, God Did It All, I See Grace, This Is The Day/I’m Gonna Keep On Singing
Wes: A Higher Throne, God Did It All, I See Grace, Absolute Peace
Daniel: Every now and then, a group will release a landmark project that raises the bar for that group. Declaration raises the bar for Southern Gospel.
Nate: I agree with Daniel about the raising of the bar… This album blazes new trails in some respects for the Booth Brothers, who are more known for their country sounding flair drenched with their rich harmonies. Here they take the big ballad approach by storm. While still throwing in some songs that harken back to their more well known musical style. The Booth Brothers really show off their versatility and ability to tackle any style of song on this album. Their pairing with Lari Goss was perfect, and he really added alot to this album as he does for any group. This is a great album that every fan of Southern Gospel should add to their collection.
Aaron: It has been said that whenever Lari Goss is involved in something, it turns to gold. But what happens when he works with a group who is already considered “gold,” consistently sweeping the Fan Awards year after year? Declaration is the result of that collaboration. This project has it all; stellar song choice and vocals, great sound, and unique arrangements. The pairing of the Booth Brothers tight harmonies and Goss’ lush orchestrations was a match made in Heaven.
Only time will tell whether this will be counted among both Goss’ and the Booth Brothers’ greatest products, but if I could take a guess, I’d say this would be a solid candidate.
Phil: A project which is simply unique. The quality of the orchestrations are magnificent. Lari Goss has the talent which many will simply dream of having. Lari Goss has the ability to create music that perfectly suits whatever group he is working with. This is evident with Declaration. The vocals are perfect and the lyrical content of the songs adds a further dimension. If the project had a sprinkling of more up-tempo songs to add a little variety, I’d be naming this as one of the best Southern Gospel projects in recent years.
Brandon: I have a feeling that I’m going to be the lone dissenting voice when I say that I like the pieces (individual tracks) more than the project as a whole. Every track found on the project is phenomenal, but when I look at the complete project, I’m left slightly disappointed. Lari Goss’ orchestrations are out of this world, but when hit with them one after another, the songs begin to run together. I have found that I enjoy the CD more when I listen to the first half, take a break, and then finish listening to the CD. I think a large part of that is a lack of fast songs on the project. If the big orchestrated songs were interspersed more with uptempo tracks, I think I would have enjoyed the project a lot more. With that said, I still think Declaration is a great project, probably one of the year’s best, but it just misses what it could have been.
Wes: I understand Brandon’s points above, and they are valid. The fact that each song has an “in your face” arrangement can be overwhelming. There really could have been one or two more fast songs included to give the album a little more variety. That being said, I couldn’t imagine removing any of the tracks that are there. Each track is a standout in its own right. The Booth Brothers have always been known for their smooth, rich harmonies, and to pair that ability with the creative genius that is Lari Goss is almost too good to be true. The songs on this project more than live up to that massive potential. This will go down as a landmark album, at least for the Booth Brothers as an artist, and quite possibly in the industry as well. The same things may be said about this project in 15 years or so that we currently hear said about projects like Pillars of Faith by Gold City or Symphony of Praise by the Cathedrals. The listener is just drenched in breathtaking arrangements, strong lyrics, and gorgeous harmonies. Yes, it’s that good.
The Old Paths first came to my attention about three years ago, when I was looking through a message board and a post from Jeremy Peace caught my eye. He had posted a link to the Old Paths Quartet website. On the front page there was a link to a music player with Jeremy, and the Old Paths singing “He Chose The Tree.” I have to say that I was impressed by the sound and quality of this group, especially considering that they were a “lesser known” group. I ordered their Today CD. When I received it I will say that I wore that CD out, for I loved the quartet sound that they presented. I have always been a sucker for good quartet music. So I was disappointed in some respects to find out that after bass singer Brandon Barry left the group, and that the Old Paths would go back to being a trio. Not that I have anything against trios but there is just something about a quartet… But I digress… When I heard that the Old Paths were releasing “Wonderful Life” I was intrigued. It is their first “mainline” higher budget release since their Today album. I got it from Itunes to save time and money… But I will say that after hearing this album, it is very much worth the money for the hard copy. The Old Paths features Jeremy Peace on Tenor, Tim Rackley singing lead and Douglas Roark on Baritone. These guys have developed a nice tight trio sound that is not always easy to achieve… I will be doing a full song breakdown below. The rating system will be 0-5 stars for each song. 0 being the worst possible rating and 5 being the best and at the end I will give an overall rating.
- I Get Excited-Great upbeat opening song for this project. This musical style fits the Old Paths well, on their Today CD they utilized this style on several of the included songs. This song is their first radio release as well and I believe it will do well. I want to see this one in a live concert setting, good upbeat song. (4/5)
- Eye of the Storm- This song featuring tenor Jeremy Peace is a very strong song that really touches me… I needed this song at the time I first heard it. This song has such a great message to it. That God will always be there no matter what you are going through… That he will always be in the eye of your storms. Jeremy really turns in a very strong performance on this song. His voice is continuing to develop a quality that really sets him apart from just your everyday tenor. On this particular song he nails some very high notes that his fans love him for.He really communicates this song very well. 5/5
- Mercy Decided- Nice medium tempo song featuring Douglas Roark on the verses. He has a nice natural baritone voice that is hard to come by these days in Southern Gospel. The song itself has a great message of hope and forgiveness. It talks about how God’s great mercy decided to not let us be doomed. Nice song. (4/5)
- He’s The Foundation- This song is a highlight of the album. It is very upbeat and has a great message within the song. The song features Tim Rackley on the verses. His voice to me is very similar to Shane Dunlap of N’Harmony or Doug Anderson Of Signature Sound. And that is a very good thing! Tim is quite the vocalist. The song will have you tapping your toes all the way through, wonderful song. (5/5)
- Paved With Grace- I absolutely love this song. It really speaks to me in a special way. It really sums up how my spiritual life has gone so far. God’s amazing grace is truly like a road that if you stay on it you will make it to the Kingdom safe and sound. The guys turn in a great vocal performance on this song. These guys have really developed a nice trio sound that I really enjoy. Once again this a wonderful song that will really bless you if you let it. (5/5)
- Too Far Gone- This is another great uptempo song that features Jeremy on the verses. Jeremy shows a little bit of a power tenor style on this song. It has a very catchy tune and hook to it that will have you once a again tapping your toes and humming along. Great song, that would make a great radio release. (4/5)
- Calvary Touched-This is another great ballad song. I have to say this whole album is full of great songs. I am very impressed by the quality of this recording. This song features Tim Rackley on the verses and he turns in another quality performances. Tim is definitely very underrated as a Southern Gospel lead singer. This song is another that should go over well live. (4.5/5)
- Saved By The Blood-This song is another nice uptempo song that features Tim again on the verses. I like this song but not quite as much as some of the other uptempo songs on this project. I do like this song and if you love a uptempo song then this is right up your alley. (3.5/5
- Do You have His Robe- This song written by Rodney Griffin is an acoustically driven song that has a wonderful message in it. The hook is this “Do You Have His Heart Or Do You Only Have His Robe” if that does not challenge you then you have something wrong. I have been challenged by the message in this song. Douglas Roark turns in a great performance on the verses. I really enjoy this song. (5/5)
- Wonderful Life- The album closes like it began with a bang. “Wonderful Life” is a catch uptempo song that also serves as the title track for this album. And once again Tim Rackley turns in a great performance. There is some really nice piano licks thrown in and throughout the song. I really like the title cut for this album. It is another song that would do good on radio. (4.5/5)
Overall Album Rating 4.5/5 stars.
This album should open some peoples eyes to the talent that this group truly has. I will always prefer quartets but The Old Paths really impress me as a trio. It is obvious that these guys have really put some hard work into creating a solid tight trio sound that is not very easy to achieve. I can’t say enough good things about this album and this group. Just go buy this album and hear the truth for yourself! You can order the project here. Or you can download it from Itunes.