CD Review: Shane Dunlap – Paradise

RATING: 4 1/2 STARS

Producer: self-produced
Website: www.shanedunlap.com
Song Titles: “Take Me To Paradise,” “Better Than This,” “Journey Of A Lifetime,” “Satisfied,” “The Light Of That City,” “More (Of Jesus),” “Shine,” “Almost Time To Fly,” “Ten Thousand Angels,” “I Don’t Deserve To Be Treated Like This,” “Should’ve Been Lovin’ You,” “There Is A Fountain,” and “The Reunion”

Shane Dunlap, former lead singer for Signature Sound Quartet and 10-year member of N’Harmony, has released his second solo project since launching out on his own as a soloist. Titled Paradise, the recording looks to be a full blown, major label release. It’s actually an independent venture produced by Dunlap himself and recorded at four different studios using tracks both new and previously recorded. Excellent art design by Holligraphics and photography by Jacquelyn Marie make for a sharp looking package that should grab your attention in the music store bins.

If you’re like me, though, you’re less concerned about how a product looks and more concerned about how it sounds. Dunlap has a strong and expressive lead singer’s voice. He has surrounded his voice on Paradise with excellent musicians and background vocalists that include the Melody Masters Quartet‘s Scott Whitener and 3 For 1‘s Holly Blanton.

“Take Me To Paradise” kicks off the project with an island sound. The song was co-written by Dunlap and Rebecca Peck. “Better Than This” is a remake of a song written and recorded originally by Rocketown recording artist Ronnie Freeman. It is followed by “Journey Of A Lifetime,” another track co-written by Dunlap and Peck. This track is one of the more energetic tracks on the CD with a choir in the background and some Hammond B3 organ giving it a traditional Black Gospel feel. “Satisfied” is another Ronnie Freeman remake. Ironically, both Freeman tracks covered by Dunlap were singled out as being “less-desirable” by Christianity Today reviewer Andy Argyrakis when he reported on Freeman’s recording in 2002. I personally think both songs are well written. On the other hand, it is risky to cover too many songs by the same artist on the same recording.

Fortunately, Dunlap goes to other sources for the rest of his cover songs. He turns in a great performance of “The Light Of That City,” originally released by Allen Asbury in 2002. Then he goes “way back” in time (at least for younger fans) to 1984 for a cover of “More (Of Jesus).” Dunlap’s version matches Mylon LeFevre‘s original almost note for note…even down to the tempo and finger picking patterns on the guitar. “Shine” is another Dunlap/Peck original with good potential to be a single.

“Almost Time To Fly” is up next. See my review HERE where I say this song is my favorite cut on 3 For 1’s CD titled Shine Where You Live. If you’ve heard 3 For 1’s version, Dunlap’s will sound remarkably similar. It’s the same music track and includes 3 For 1’s background vocals. It’s the only track on the CD that sounds distinctively Southern Gospel from a musical perspective, although I believe most of the selections have enough quality to get the attention of most SG DJs.

Other cuts on Paradise include the classic gospel standard “Ten Thousand Angels,” a Dunlap original co-written with Marty Funderburk called “I Don’t Deserve To Be Treated Like This,” a cover of “Should’ve Been Lovin’ You” (recorded first by Jonathan Pierce on Sanctuary in 1999), and a laid back track featuring a flute in the accompaniment called “There Is A Fountain” (not the hymn). The final selection is a narrated number called “The Reunion” about meeting loved ones in Heaven. This track is effectively orchestrated by Milton Smith.

Paradise is an extremely well made project by Shane Dunlap. Scott Barnett deserves a mention for his mixing and mastering as well, especially considering the diverse sound sources and various recording locations that were used to make Paradise. Stylistically, the CD tends to sit somewhere between Southern Gospel and Inspirational formats. The recording is a bit cover heavy for my personal tastes, but you get your money’s worth with 13 tracks maxing out at a whopping 52 minutes. Paradise not only looks like a full blown label backed release as I mentioned at the outset of this review, it also sounds like one.

Category CD Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

MusicScribe Comments

We love comments

4 Comments

  1. ChrisUnthank
    Reply December 28, 03:39 #1 ChrisUnthank

    So how do the Freeman songs compare to Freeman’s originals?

    “Satisfied” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I feel like Argyrakis is hit and miss on his reviews. “Better Than This” was less than memorable to me as well, but “Satisfied” is great song.




    0



    0
  2. David Bruce Murray
    Reply December 28, 11:57 #2 David Bruce Murray

    I prefer Dunlap’s versions, because Freeman’s tone quality is a lot more breathy…almost gasping at the end of his phrases. It sounds great when Amy Grant sings that way, but it sounds sort of cheesy when a man does it.

    Dunlap’s versions show what happens when a good singer puts his mark on a good song. Freeman sounds like a singer/songwriter…more writer than singer. I know that in contemporary circles there’s more of an appreciation for a raw “pure” approach…the relatively thin voice of Freeman may convey more emotion in that market…or maybe not, since his CD is already out of print…but my point is that Dunlap can take a good song precisely where he wants it to go, while Freeman doesn’t appear to have that ability…based on the clips I’ve heard.




    0



    0
  3. ChrisUnthank
    Reply December 28, 14:33 #3 ChrisUnthank

    I guess we’ll disagree with Freeman’s talent. If you’re only going on clips – you aren’t grasping his full potential. Freeman is an excellent singer – at times recalling early Michael English (especially on “Satisfied”) and at times recalling early Wayne Watson.

    We’ve got Dunlap’s CD here – I’ll have to give it a listen.




    0



    0
  4. David Bruce Murray
    Reply December 29, 01:40 #4 David Bruce Murray

    Chris,

    You’re right that all I have to go on are clips. I might change my mind if I heard his full blown project, but on the clips I heard he came across as overly breathy to me. I actually wasn’t familiar with him before I started checking to see what cover songs had been recorded by Dunlap.




    0



    0

Tell us what you think!