CD Review: Masters Voice – Undivided

CD Review: Masters Voice – Undivided

cover170x170Label: Sonlite Records
Producers: Jeff Collins
Songs: I Can Hardly Wait To Fly; Goodbye To Goodbye; How Long A Lifetime; Lord Of Mercy; Here I Am Again; I Know What He Did For Me; Somebody Is Me; This Same Jesus; Things God Doesn’t Know; Send Somebody; Ain’t It Good; Everything The Blood Touches Lives
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5)

Master’s Voice is based in Bristow, Oklahoma. The group was formed in 1995, so they’re actually starting their third decade in 2016. Current members include Ricky Capps (tenor/founder/group owner), Justin Morphis (lead), Stan Watson (baritone), Jerry Pilgrim (bass), and Theron Perry (musician). Pilgrim (Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet), Morphis (11th Hour) and Watson (Paul’s Journey) are all names you may recognize from their work with other groups.

Undivided is a rare recording in the sense that I had people telling me I needed to review it before I’d heard the first note. Now of course I’m used to hearing overblown hype from a group’s die-hard fan base and reading press releases, but these recommendations came from people whose opinions I can typically trust. Let’s dig in and see if it’s really as good as they say.

“I Can Hardly Wait To Fly” gets Undivided underway with a driving arrangement featuring brass decorations. Watson does an excellent job delivering the second verse. “Goodbye To Goodbye” is a soulful piece that could have benefited from more quiet intensity in Morphis’s vocal at the beginning, but never fear; it slowly builds up to a big impressive finish. “How Long A Lifetime” is a stellar ballad featuring Capps; well-written, well-sung and as good as any ballad I’ve heard lately.

“Lord Of Mercy” is a mid-tempo number featuring Pilgrim. He doesn’t put the deepest notes you’ll ever hear into the mic, but Pilgrim is impressive on a solo feature like this. “Lord Of Mercy” is followed by “Here I Am Again,” a mid-tempo song that gives Morphis another chance to shine. I can hear some Mike Bowling influence in his vocal on this track, but it’s not overdone. “I Know What He Did For Me” features Pilgrim again, this time on a slower-paced song pitched firmly up in his baritone range. I really like the use of the harmony vocals above Pilgrim’s melody on the second verse. I’d like to see more groups use this type of vocal arrangement over bass features.

“Somebody Is Me” is the second tenor feature on Undivided for Capps, providing an upbeat contrast to “How Long A Lifetime.” “This Same Jesus” is a big ballad featuring Morphis. “Things God Doesn’t Know” is a solid quartet song. Watson sings the second verse.

“Send Somebody” is another feature for Morphis. It’s not bad at all, but with so many excellent songs on Undivided, the overall effect of the CD would have been stronger without this one. “Ain’t It Good” splits the verses between Morphis and Watson with both men doing some flat-out good singing. The CD concludes with the slower-paced “Everything The Blood Touches Lives” featuring Pilgrim on the first verse and Morphis on the second. The production is good, the message is good and the vocal delivery is up to the standard set on earlier songs, but the songwriting is average. Borrowing a line from Andrae Crouch’s “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power” cheapens the effect even further.

With Undivided, Master’s Voice has the most impressive major label debut I’ve heard in two or three years. Strong song selection and vocals are a must, and this CD has both. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all seasoned veterans, of course.

Beyond that, I’m impressed that Master’s Voice used no less than nine studio musicians playing an array of instruments. Seven more off-site musicians added their talents for Cody McVey’s brass arrangements, and they also brought in Milton Smith for additional orchestration work. So many CDs try to get it all done with four or five players as quickly as possible, but someone spent some cash to make Undivided sound as good as it does. My ears are grateful for the extra effort.

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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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1 Comment

  1. Reply January 19, 17:40 #1 Chris Unthank

    Crossroads sounds good on Master’s Voice…

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