CD Review: Liberty – It’s All About Grace

CD Review: Liberty – It’s All About Grace

libertyProducers: Liberty Quartet/Cody McVey
Songs: “I Need A Fresh Drink;” “Great Reward;” “It’s All About Grace;” “He Does All Things Well;” “Based Upon The Word;” “Jesus Is Waiting;” “Cornerstone;” “Rest In Me My Child;” “Come Home To Jesus;” “Joy In The House;” “‘Til Mercy Sang;” “He Hears A Whisper”
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5)

Liberty hails from Meridian, Idaho. Group members include Philip Batton (tenor) and Royce Mitchell (bass) with Paul Ellis and Doug Wiley splitting lead and baritone duties. It’s All About Grace is their new release for 2016.

The traditional up-tempo opener, “I Need A Fresh Drink,” feels like it should be pitched a whole step higher to allow the bass singer to hit his low notes with more confidence.  Liberty really shines on the mid-tempo, acoustic pop style implemented on “Great Reward.” The heavily orchestrated “It’s All About Grace” feels somewhat phoned in at first, but it finally ramps up about two-thirds of the way in for an impressive ending.

The title of “He Does All Things Well” could have an inferred meaning. Liberty does several styles well including the mid-tempo country adventure that is “He Does All Things Well.” The tempo picks up for “Based Upon The Word,” then slows for “Jesus Is Waiting,” remaining in a country mode for each of these tracks. “Cornerstone” is up next, presented as a tribute to the songwriter Lari Goss. Producer Cody McVey is a Lari Goss protégé, and that connection is clear in the arrangement. “Rest In Me My Child” breaks out a slow 6/8 rhythm with another Goss-like arrangement.

“Come Home To Jesus” features a nice invitation lyric. “Joy In The House” unleashes the brass section on a fun soulful arrangement. “‘Til Mercy Sang” is the strongest ballad on the CD, both in terms of lyric and performance. “He Hears A Whisper” has a great lyric, but the arrangement is rather dull. Simpler instrumentation would have allowed the vocal and lyric to shine.

There are strong lyrics throughout It’s All About Grace with mostly excellent arrangements and solid vocal performances overall. It’s enough for a solid 4-Star rating on a scale of 1 to 5. Liberty is a flexible group, switching from one style to another with ease. Variety can be a double-edged sword, however. I wouldn’t be sure I was hearing the same group if someone played these songs back-to-back randomly in a blind listening test. The exception is that 3-song segment of country arrangements (“He Does All Things Well,” “Based Upon The Word,” and “Jesus Is Waiting”) where, for a few minutes, it seems that It’s All About Grace is establishing a particular musical direction.

Overall Rating
4 out of 5

4

Good
4 out of 5
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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