CD Review: Second Mile (Vertical)

RATING: 4 Stars

Label: Worship Planet Music
Producers: Channing Eleton, Donny Henderson, and Buddy Mullins
Website: www.secondmileonline.com

Song Titles: “Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory,” “Children Of God,” “The Name,” “I Will Do The Same,” “Lead You To The Cross,” “The Power And The Glory,” “Somebody Dance,” “My Forgiveness,” “King Of My World,” “Draw Near,” “Always,” “Whatever It Takes,” “Song Of Adoration,” “Shelter Me,” and “Grace Like Rain”

Buddy Mullins (Mullins and Co./Gaither Vocal Band), Channing Eleton (Poet Voices/Gold City), and Donny Henderson (Poet Voices) cut their teeth singing and playing with some of the top groups in Southern Gospel. These three men along with Kerri Mullins (Buddy’s wife) formed Second Mile in 2005 and recently released their debut recording, Vertical.

Vertical is a worship project in the same vein as titles found in the Spring Hill Worship series. I believe I’m correct in saying that all the songs on Vertical come from Spring Hill staff writers. Joe Beck co-wrote 14 of the 15 songs, with help from writers like Chaz Bosarge, Carl Cartee, Billy Sprague, and Rick Cua. Some of the tracks were also recorded at the Bennett House. If you’ve followed Spring Hill Worship’s releases for the past couple of years, you may recall that their initial release was titled Songs From The Bennett House. So there’s definitely a Spring Hill Worship vibe that resonates throughout this recording, even though Second Mile isn’t officially part of the Spring Hill roster of artists as I’m writing this review.

Vertical gets off to a great start with “Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory”…a touch of accordion in the accompaniment on the verses provides a nice contrast to the more driving, anthemic choruses. “Children Of God” is built on a bed of guitar textures. This song is also produced as an anthem…a clear statement of faith with a compelling rhythm. “The Name” slows the pace considerably, giving Kerri Mullins an opportunity for an expressive solo. One of my personal favorites on Vertical is “I Will Do The Same.” The lead vocal is more prominent in the mix, which may be one reason it stood out to me. It’s also a well written song.

“Lead You To The Cross” has a layered, rhythmic accompaniment that detracts from the lyrics. In fact, there are so many layers of instruments behind the vocals that it’s essentially a wash of sound with no clear purpose. “The Power And The Glory” gets back on track with a soulful piano driving the accompaniment through the first verse and chorus followed by a full accompaniment for the rest of the track…I love what the bass guitar player is doing in that section. This is another winner. “Somebody Dance” returns to a stock rhythmic, layered accompaniment. Fortunately, it’s not an excessive treatment this time. Acoustic guitar sets up the mid-tempo “My Forgiveness,” a song that showcases Second Mile’s vocal harmony on the choruses.

That’s just the first half. Vertical has a generous fifteen tracks clocking in at just over an hour. Standout tunes I haven’t already mentioned include the driving “Song Of Adoration” and “Shelter Me,” which provides a nice contrast to the rest of the CD with it’s simpler accompaniment.

I don’t normally say this when a CD has a lot of music on it, but I actually think Vertical would pack a more powerful punch if it had fewer tracks. Several cuts are five-star level efforts…”Shelter Me” and “I Will Do The Same” being two…but the impact of these stellar cuts is diminished by several tracks that lack a distinct identity. The mix could have been better on a couple of cuts; the vocals seemed to get lost at times. All in all, though, Vertical is a nice addition for music lovers to enjoy with intricate production quality and considerably more creative than average worship lyrics.

by David Bruce Murray

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.

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