CD Review: Brian Free & Assurance – “Live Like We’re Redeemed”

CD Review: Brian Free & Assurance – “Live Like We’re Redeemed”

LLWR-6-Page-OUTSIDELive Like We’re Redeemed
Produced by Ricky Free
Daywind Records
Format: CD & Digital

Tune-O-Meter: Medium

SONG TITLES: Somebody’s Miracle (Lee Black/Kenna Turner West/Brian White) – That’s Just What Grace Does (Laura Allen/Michael Farren/Don Poythress) – The Measure Of A Man (Mark Harris/Don Koch/Stephanie Lewis) – Live Like We’re Redeemed (Dave Clark/Ricky Free) – He Will Carry You (Lee Black/Gina Boe) – Mission Of Mercy (Jason Cox/Sue C. Smith/Kenna Turner West) – When Mercy Looks At Me (Jeff Bumgardner/Ricky Free) – Forever Home (Jason Cox/Joel Lindsey) – You Could Be The Difference (Sam Mizell/Jamie Slocum/Sam Tinnesz) – One Mile World (Lee Black/Ben Storie)

Over the last few years, Brian Free & Assurance have morphed from a traditional gospel quartet into the poster children for modern arrangements and styles, sometimes pushing the envelope of what’s southern gospel (thanks in large part to the production of Brian’s son, Ricky Free). With the departure of Jeremy Lile on bass, the group has opted instead to revert to a trio of Free, Bill Shivers, and Mike Rogers (for the time being – they haven’t officially closed the door on hiring another bass singer), and this is the lineup¬†we have on Live Like We’re Redeemed, their latest release from Daywind Records.

This album follows a similar formula from the last few BFA releases – uncompromising faith in lyric backed with modern music arrangements that are not bound to SG traditions. They seem to return to their usual stable of go-to writers for material with the same success. Any one of these songs would be right at home on any of their previous albums. If you’re a fan of their recent work, then this latest offering will work just fine.

Highlights include “Somebody’s Miracle,” a good choice for a single, “Mission of Mercy,” a nice mid-tempo number, and “When Mercy Looks at Me,” proving that Bill Shivers is one of the most underrated lead singers on the road today.

Mike Rogers gets to shine¬†Shivers also gets the lead on “Forever Home,” a moving ballad of what it’ll be like once we leave this world. My only gripe with the lyrics in song come at the end of the bridge, where “forever home” is used as a noun, borrowing from a common pet adoption phrase, referring to Heaven as “his forever home,” which to me felt kinda cheesy*.

One of the more interesting choices is “The Measure Of A Man,” a cover of a 4Him song from the mid-90’s. This seems to follow a trend in SG over the last several years where southern gospel artists are reaching into the catalog of 90’s CCM artists for material. Either this shows how styles have evolved in SG over time, or simply shows how far behind southern gospel really is. BFA’s take on this song adds a slide guitar to give it a bit of a bluesy edge, but it feels a bit out of place compared to the smooth harmonies, but overall, it’s a cool choice.

“One Mile World,” to me, seems to fall flat with its hook. I get the message that’s being presented – we get so busy in our daily lives that it’s easy to look past those right by us who need help in our immediate vicinity, it feels like the idea of a “one mile world” is left a bit unexplained, at least in my opinion*.

Aside from rumbling root notes, there’s not much of a difference between the quartet and the trio version of BFA, soundwise. The vocals are stacked and mixed (and tuned) in such a way that they’re quite a few times where there’s obviously more than just a trio present anyway. I did notice that this album doesn’t sound as overly-compressed (extra loud) as previous efforts, letting the recording actually have some dynamics (something that has been somewhat lacking, not just for BFA, but many recordings in the last decade thanks to the recent loudness wars).

Brian Free & Assurance has found their niche, and they play directly to it. If you enjoyed their previous albums, you’ll enjoy Live Like We’re Redeemed.

*Personal nitpicks – no need to bog down the comments with how I’m a nobody who’s never had a number one song…we’ve been down that road already.

Category CD Reviews, Reviews

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

MusicScribe Comments

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  1. Jeremy
    Reply March 16, 12:48 #1 Jeremy

    Just a note, Bill Shivers is the one singing Forever Home :)

  2. Sherry
    Reply March 18, 23:30 #2 Sherry

    Got to see these guys in concert- WOW!!!!! A MUST SEE. Not only clearly gifted, we felt the Holy Spirit. These men believe what they sing.

  3. Tad Kirkland
    Reply March 19, 22:06 #3 Tad Kirkland

    BF&A is 4Him from the 90s. I don’t know that it means SG is behind with a surgence of SG groups doing old CCM songs. I think they’re seeing the value in some classics.
    I believe BF&A is actually being true to themselves and who they intended to be when they started. On there first few albums, they were a progressive SG trio. I believe they went more traditional and a qt in the late 90s to pay the bills. I’m glad they get to be themselves.
    The Browns and Taylors have covered recent CCM hits that fit their style in a different way, by melding a current Mumford & Sons sound with family harmony which works well with a modern country and SG sound.

    • Darrell
      Reply March 29, 16:45 Darrell

      If I am not mistaken, the Erwins covered The Basics of Life by 4Him. And the Kingsmen and Gold City have both covered Mercy Came Running by Phillips, Craig and Dean. I agree that it does seem like the CCM groups of the 90s are what non traditional SG groups are like today. In my mind, that’s not totally a bad thing.

  4. Dean Hughes
    Reply March 27, 15:47 #4 Dean Hughes

    You have another soloist listed incorrectly.When Mercy Looks At Me features Mike not Bill.

    • Kyle Boreing
      Reply March 28, 09:22 Kyle Boreing

      New rule – I’m not allowed to single out vocalists unless I can definitively tell them apart….

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