CD Review: McKameys – What If

CD Review: McKameys – What If

Image1Label: Horizon Records
Producers: Jeff Collins and Roger Fortner
Song Titles: “I’m Gonna Give It Away,” “Your Prayers Have Been Heard,” “There Is A Peace,” “Where He Is,” “While I Wait,” “I’ll Give You Grace,” “Lift My Voice,” “I Have A Home,” “What If,” “Work In The Field”
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

What If is the 51st recording by the McKameys. Group members include Ruben & Peg McKamey Bean, their daughter Sheryl Farris, their daughter and son-in-law Connie & Roger Fortner and their grandson Eli Fortner.

Sheryl Farris wrote four songs for What If including the opening track, “I’m Gonna Give It Away.” A straightforward lyric, a slightly up-tempo rhythm, Sheryl’s clear vocals on the melody and an arrangement that finds the best spots for the rest of the group to blend make this one of the best songs on the CD. I’d like to hear the McKameys do more songs like this one. Sheryl also wrote “While I Wait” featuring Connie singing in lower vocal register than she typically uses. The up-tempo “I Have A Home” features Peg on the first single going to radio from What If. Sheryl is also the writer and featured vocalist for the meditative piano ballad that serves as the album’s title track.

It’s interesting that both of Connie’s features on What If are slower arrangements, while both of Peg’s are upbeat. “Your Prayers Have Been Heard” (written by Sandy Blythe) and “There Is A Peace” (written Adina Bowman) would have been stronger if they had swapped places. “Your Prayers Have Been Heard” is a slower track with a lyric that seems tailor-made for Peg, and it would have been nice to hear Connie on a quicker song to contrast “While I Wait.”

“Where He Is” (Steve E. Hamby) features Eli singing melody over a mid-tempo accompaniment. “I’ll Give You Grace” (Richard Blythe) is an upbeat arrangement featuring Sheryl that, like the opening track, gives this CD a lift. Ruben steps into the spotlight for the plodding “Lift My Voice” (Robert Deel).

“Work In The Field” (Linda Nixon) features Roger on a toe-tapping country-styled song, providing a welcomed departure in style from the other songs on What If. Hearing this song makes me wish Roger would release an entire CD of songs in a similar style.

The strongest songs on What If are Roger’s “Work In The Field, Connie’s “While I Wait” plus the three songs that feature Sheryl on melody. The other selections featuring Peg, Ruben and Connie are generally weaker due to arrangement choices, and Eli’s song, though it has a great arrangement, isn’t really the best fit for his vocal style.

This CD’s title is descriptive of the content, though perhaps not as intended. Half the songs are home runs (or at least solid triples), but what if Connie and Peg had swapped places for the two songs I mentioned; what if Roger had sung three songs instead of just one; what if the tempo was doubled for Ruben’s feature; what if they’d found a song for Eli that he felt more comfortable singing.

Category CD Reviews, 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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