CD Review: Evidence (Talkin’ About The Love Of God)

RATING: 2 1/2 Stars

Website: http://www.evidencemusicministry.com/

Song Titles: “Talkin’ About The Love Of God,” “It Pays To Serve The King,” “Put My Hand In His Hand,” “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” “I’m Winging My Way Back Home,” “Roll Away Trouble River,” “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus,” “All Aboard,” “My Smiling Face,” “I Love Jesus Best Of All,” and “Reach Out To Jesus”

Evidence is a mixed quartet (alto, tenor, lead, bass) based in Orange County, California. Talkin’ About The Love Of God includes eleven tracks in a traditional “church quartet” style accompanied by piano and occasional organ. While several of these songs were new to me, I was familiar with classics like “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” “Roll Away Trouble River,” “All Aboard,” “I’m Winging My Way Back Home,” and “Reach Out To Jesus.”

Let’s get the drawbacks out of the way first. Talkin’ About The Love Of God has a number of inconsistencies in the areas of phrasing, pitch, and vibrato. “Loud” consonants sometimes come rapid fire rather than together, for example, while some held notes may have one or two singers with a straight tone while the others have an inconsistent vibrato that diminishes the blend. These inconsistencies aren’t overwhelmingly bad, just frequent. Some tempos are also inconsistent. I don’t mean intentional changes in tempo, such as slowing down at the end of a phrase or section…I’m speaking more with regard to rushed vocal phrases getting ahead of the pianist, who then shifts to catch up. (The verse of “All Aboard” is one example).

Another inconsistent element of Talkin’ About The Love Of God is the mix. The piano, as a general rule, is buried whenever there are vocals present. Also, on some songs, the old Statesmen mixing technique is employed where one vocal in placed in the left stereo channel while the other three sing in the right. This style of mixing may have been fine when everyone played records on a home stereo system, but it’s disconcerting if you’re driving down the road in an automobile or listening via headphones.

Overall, the vocal tones and blend tend to be decent on Talkin’ About The Love Of God, but inadequate support is a problem at times, evidenced by a dryness in the tone or a slight wobble in pitch. I also hear a lot of what my college voice teacher called a “hooty” sound, particularly when the bass singer has an exposed line. There are also a couple of spots where the singers and the pianist aren’t on the same chord.

Before you think this CD is devoid of any quality, I’d like to address the positive qualities of Talkin’ About The Love Of God. This recording has an undefinable, simple charm that fans of groups like the Chuck Wagon Gang should appreciate. These are non-showy vocal arrangements that pretty much stick to the notes on the page. The songs have a happy gait established by the pianist, who has a very good touch at the keys. (A piano solo would have been a welcomed addition to break up the sameness of the sound.)

I also like the CD cover concept which ties into the group name. You probably can’t see the detail in the scan, but the CD cover features a manila file folder labeled “Evidence” with three drops of blood and a Post-It note saying “Case Closed” (along with a pair of glasses, a pencil with broken lead, and a Polaroid photo of the group. The back cover has what appears to be an official police form where case evidence would be listed…this is where the song titles are listed. Cool idea!

Finally, I have to compliment the group for their song selection. Although the vocal performances and the production quality leave quite a bit of room for improvement, at least the songs are well written with a strong focus on ministry and a consistent theme of Christian witness throughout.

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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