CD Review: Palmetto State Quartet (Sweet Land Of Rest)

RATING: 4 Stars
Label: Sonlite Records
Producer: Jeff Collins

Song Titles: “I’m Gonna Pray,” “No Doubt Salvation,” “Land Of Rest,” “Old Fashioned Altar Call,” “In The Palm Of His Hand,” “Only By The Blood,” “The Life You’ve Always Wanted,” “Behold The Lamb,” “What A Wonderful Lord,” and “I Am Sailing Away”

Sweet Land Of Rest kicks off with an excellent Dianne Wilkinson song featuring recently departed Palmetto State Quartet bass singer Aaron McCune and lead singer Kerry Beatty. Tenor John Rulapaugh makes his presence known at the end of the song in a big way, as well. “No Doubt Salvation” follows in a similar upbeat traditional vein. The title track is a song previously recorded in 2005 by the Kingsmen Quartet. PSQ’s version is slightly slower and delivered in a more subdued manner. Rulapaugh puts a little more vibrato in his tone than I prefer, so if forced to choose, I’d pick the Kingsmen version. Overall though, he does a good job delivering another great lyric by Dianne Wilkinson. Rick Fair steps up next with the upbeat “Old Fashioned Altar Call,” sung boldly in a true baritone range.

McCune demonstrates his ability to deliver a slow lyric with “In The Palm Of His Hand,” and Beatty does the same with “Only By The Blood.” Milton Smith‘s orchestrations give “Only By The Blood” a classy touch and I like the surprise a cappella bit with the orchestra fading back in at the very end. The intro to “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” sounds like the theme from a 1970s era TV game show. “Behold The Lamb” is an anthem featuring Rick Fair written by Jimmy Dooley and Steven Cheney. A mid-tempo “What A Wonderful Lord” with some classic close chord progressions and a traditional four part harmony cut called “I’m Sailing Away” close out Sweet Land Of Rest.

Palmetto State Quartet’s vocal arrangements tend to be pitched a little lower than other male quartets. This is because they have a true baritone in Rick Fair. It’s refreshing to hear notes an octave plus a note or two below middle C as the bottom notes of a solo. I suspect with Burman Porter taking over the bass position from McCune, PSQ’s future recordings will be even tighter in vocal range. This move should force them to develop a unique vocal sound that will hopefully stand out from other groups on the market.

Aaron McCune fans will want to get a copy of his final recording with PSQ. The song selection on Sweet Land Of Rest is particularly good. A bit more creativity on the music tracks and detail in the liner notes would have been welcomed, but overall, this is a very solid male quartet release.

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 and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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