CD Review: Shenandoah – Good News Travels Fast

CD Review: Shenandoah – Good News Travels Fast

shenandoahProducers: Bud McGuire and Mike McGuire
Label: Dayind Roots
Song Titles: “A Cross Between A Sinner And A Saint,” “Didn’t It Rain,” “Good News Travels Fast,” “Hallelujah For The Cross,” “I Know He Knows,” “Seconds Count” (duet with Karen Peck), “Stained Glass,” “Sunday Morning Sermon,” “Just Wait, Be Still,” “Like Every Days A Sunday” (sic), “If I’m Right”
Rating on a scale of 1-5 Stars: 4 Stars

It’s been almost 20 years since country super-group Shenandoah broke up after the departure of lead singer and co-founding member Marty Raybon. The group returned in 2000, but without Raybon who was pursuing a solo career at the time. He would ultimately return to Shenandoah in 2014, restoring their unique sound. Other current group members include co-founder Mike McGuire (drums), Jamie Michael (lead guitar), Stan Munsey (keyboards), and Paul Sanders (bass guitar).

Good News Travels Fast represents several firsts for Shenandoah. It is their first CD since Raybon’s return, their first CD in ten years, and their first major label CD since 1996’s Shenandoah Christmas twenty years ago. It’s also their first all-Gospel CD.

When a country artist records a gospel album, you can usually expect a collection of hymns and old standards. There’s nothing wrong with that if your key market is the Cracker Barrel crowd, I suppose, but I’m pleased to report that Good News Travels Fast features mostly new and a couple of not-so familiar songs. This is how Country Gospel standards ultimately become the classics of tomorrow. Someone has to record some new songs, and Shenandoah makes a good run at it with this CD.

Good News Travels Fast kicks off with “A Cross Between A Sinner And A Saint.” The second verse about the two thieves crucified with Jesus is a winner, but I was less thrilled by the first verse. Up next is a rollicking version of “Didn’t It Rain.” This is a remake of the 2006 Oak Ridge Boys song that added fresh verses to the familiar old chorus. The first verse of the CD’s pleasantly paced title track tells the story of a rascal getting saved and how everyone in the area was quick to spread the word. The second and third verses shift back in time to tell the stories of Jesus’ birth and resurrection.

“Hallelujah For The Cross” is a fresh take on the 2014 Newsboys song from their CD by the same title. Marty Raybon’s voice is perfect for a storytelling song like “I Know He Knows.” The duet on “Seconds Count” with Karen Peck is a nice contrast to the other songs on the CD, but the arrangement never develops into the powerhouse combination I was anticipating from a Raybon/Peck combo. Even less interesting is the effort on the part of the songwriters to repeat the word “second” as many times as possible.

“Stained Glass” is a lyrical highlight with its double meaning; “stained glass” as in dirty reflections vs. “stained glass” as in a colorful mosaic. “Sunday Morning Sermon” is a joyous romp that rhymes words like “squirming” with “sermon.” There’s some fancy finger-work on an old pie-anner, too.  At the other end of the spectrum is “Just Wait, Be Still” with an acoustic guitar-driven accompaniment. “Like Every Day’s A Sunday” extends the pause for reflection and worship. Good News Travels Fast ends with a question from songwriters Gerald Crabb and Tim Menzies. What if I’m right about this God thing?

Good News Travels Fast offers a nice range of styles and tempos. Fans of Shenandoah from years ago should be thrilled with this collection. Marty Raybon has one of those identifiable voices that makes anything he sings a Shenandoah song. Mike McGuire and Raybon co-wrote a few of these songs, and McGuire plays drums and guitar on the album. None of the other touring band members played on this recording, but it is interesting to imagine how some of these songs might translate to the concert stage.

BEHIND THE SCENES UPDATE/CLARIFICATION (4/21/16): You may have read elsewhere that Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts produced this recording. Shenandoah’s website gives the same impression with a headline stating “Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus Producing Shenandoah’s First Album in 10 Years”  at the top of the main page. The fact is that Jay DeMarcus is producing a separate country album for the group that should come out at a later date, and since this gospel album is due to be on the shelves next week, the album DeMarcus is working on with the group is obviously NOT going to be the group’s first album in 10 years. DeMarcus was not involved in the production of this gospel CD. 

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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2 Comments

  1. Bud McGuire
    Reply April 27, 17:09 #1 Bud McGuire

    Jamie Michael is Shenandoah’s presently touring guitar player and is featured on all tracks. Perhaps you overlooked when browsing the credits.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 27, 22:58 David Bruce Murray Author

      Thank you for the correction. Bud. I did miss it when I scanned the credits. I’ve updated the review accordingly.

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