CD Review: Amber Nelon Thompson – Just Sing

CD Review: Amber Nelon Thompson – Just Sing

amber2015justsingmaxSong List:  (1) “Sing-A-Long” (Dave Clark/Jason Clark);  (2) “He’s Making Me” (Marty Funderburk/Scott Godsey); (3) “Another Time, Another Place” (Gary Driskell); (4) “Be Thou My Vision” (Traditional); (5) “What Do You Say?” (Jason Clark); (6) “Without Your Love” (Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey); (7) “Grateful” (Tony Wood/Don Poythress/Ian Eskelin); (8) “God Is Always Good” (Marty Funderburk/Chad Cates); (9) “Give It To Jesus” (Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey); (10) “Falling” (Tony Wood/Gina Boe/Ronnie Freeman).
Label: Daywind
RATING: 4 1/2 Stars (on a scale of 1-5 Stars)

I have two questions as I listen to Just Sing for the first time. For context, you need to know that Amber Nelon Thompson released a four-song EP last fall titled Without Your Love. It earned a 5-Star rating here at MusicScribe. Those four songs included two dramatic ballads  in “Without Your Love” and “What Do You Say?”, a nice mid-tempo Country song titled “Grateful”, and a poignant, relaxed track titled “Falling.”  Just Sing includes the same four songs from the EP and adds six more.

So here are my two questions: First, are the six new arrangements on this CD as good as the four from her stellar EP? Second, do all ten songs compliment complement each other as a collection, or is it more of a random collection of styles?

“Sing-A-Long” is more playful than “Grateful,” but flows in the same stylistic vein. There’s a bit of an identity crisis, though. Bill Gaither’s step-out line makes this song lean toward the novelty category, but it doesn’t fully embrace that concept.  They could have added more fun interaction between Amber & Gaither or just left out Gaither’s part entirely. Either choice would have made the song more satisfying than the middle route.

“He’s Making Me” is a solid up-tempo song. If it sounds familiar, that’s probably because you heard the 2012 version by Austin & Ethan (Whisnant) or Shane Dunlap’s version from earlier this year. Just for fun, click HERE to compare all three.

Michael English is heard in the background vocals on “He’s Making Me.” He then steps out front to join Amber on a remake of the 1990 Sandi Patty/Wayne Watson duet, “Another Time, Another Place.” Expect to hear this combination on the “Greatest Hits Tour” events that feature both English and the Nelons.

The traditional hymn “Be Thou My Vision” features the vocals of all the Nelons (Amber, Autumn, Kelly & Jason). The instrumentation is light on this one, while the vocals are thick and rich. If it weren’t for the instruments, this arrangement would have fit nicely on the Nelons’ 2014 Hymns: The A Cappella Sessions CD.

“What Do You Say?,” “Without Your Love” and “Grateful” are next. All of these are winners. I described those in the earlier review of the EP. “God Is Always Good” is a slow-paced track that showcases Amber’s ability to communicate a lyric. The mid-tempo “Give It To Jesus” starts by asking questions, then takes on an anthem quality for the choruses. “Falling,” the best and last track from the EP, is again positioned at the end of Just Sing.

It’s time to answer the two questions I posed at the beginning of this review. The six new arrangements are almost as good as the four songs from Amber’s earlier EP. “Almost” is fine, because that EP was just excellent. In terms of style, “Be Thou My Vision” is the only track that feels a bit out-of-place. I’d like to have seen it saved for a future Nelons recording, and another fun song like “Sing-A-Long” or “Grateful” added in its place. As great as the slower songs are, the CD does drag a bit in the middle.

All in all, Just Sing is a solid 4 1/2 Star effort that really deserves attention not just from Southern Gospel outlets, but also from Christian pop and even mainstream Country radio.

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

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5 Comments

  1. Annette Wilson
    Reply August 05, 15:09 #1 Annette Wilson

    Another Time/Another Place wasn’t really reviewed. It was mentioned,a comment was made about it being featured on the Grestest Hits tour,but nothing else.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply August 05, 16:07 David Bruce Murray Author

      I would not define the word “review” quite so narrowly. Several facts about the song were shared. A review should be at least as much description as it is opinion.

      As for the performance on that particular song, I would have pointed out anything that wasn’t up to the standards of the rest of the CD if I had noticed anything like that that was worth pointing out. They do a fine job on it, as you’d expect from two singers of their caliber.

  2. Chris Unthank
    Reply August 06, 09:53 #2 Chris Unthank

    I think this is a great project – one of my favorites in our genre alongside Eighth Day’s comeback and Jim Brady Trio’s debut.

  3. yankeegospelgirl
    Reply August 08, 20:11 #3 yankeegospelgirl

    “Do all ten songs compliment each other as a collection?”

    “Why hello there, new duet with Michael English! Amber, you sound quite fresh and lovely and unforced. Can’t say the same for your partner but this is a COMPLIMENTING session, so I repeat how lovely YOU sound!”

    “Why thank you, thank you, new arrangement of ‘Be Thou My Vision!’ I love your haunting, ethereal feel!”

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