CD Review: James Gafgen – Southern Gospel Glory

CD Review: James Gafgen – Southern Gospel Glory

jamesgafgenProducer: Matt Koch
Song Titles: “There Is Power In The Blood,” “Known Only To Him,” “Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho,” “Where Could I Go,” “The Old Country Church,” “Somebody Bigger Than You Or I,” “Reach Out To Jesus,” “It’ll Be God,” “Touch Of His Hand,” “Stand By Me,” “I’ll Fly Away”
Rating: 2 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)

Southern Gospel Glory by James Gafgen is a collection of standards set in a classic style with shades of Elvis Presley and Ray Stevens. Gafgen is not attempting to mimic Presley’s vocal tones as an impersonator would, but the way he delivers some of his lines are in that general vein. Some of the background vocals have a Presley quality as well. I’m sure the Ray Stevens parallels I noted are unintentional. For example, when the background bass singer drops down with a honking “do-do-do” from the chord root to the seventh on “Where Could I Go,” it sounds like something Stevens might do for comic effect.

The strongest tracks on Southern Gospel Glory are “Known Only To Him,” “Somebody Bigger Than You Or I” and “Reach Out To Jesus.” These songs exude a timeless quality with Gafgen’s pleasant lead vocal tones highlighted over a relatively simple accompaniment and lush background vocals. “There Is Power In The Blood” is the best upbeat track, despite some timing issues among the musicians.

At the other extreme are “The Old Country Church” and “It’ll Be God.” These are rhythmic messes with imprecise, too-busy accompaniments. The groove never gels. “Touch Of His Hand” is not quite as successful as the best slower tempo tracks I mentioned above, because there are two piano tracks panned left and right with distracting fill parts coming at your ears from both channels. “Stand By Me” is a little better, but the accompaniment still feels awkward. The CD closes with a pretty good take on “I’ll Fly Away.”

The concept Gafgen is going for with Southern Gospel Glory is great. His vocals are perfect for this classic sound. I particularly enjoyed hearing the background vocalists set the stage so perfectly for several songs. The overall song selection fits the concept as well. The overall production quality, arrangements and musicianship are lacking, however. Those factors ultimately detract from the appeal of Southern Gospel Glory.

Overall Rating
2.5 out of 5


2.5 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 and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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1 Comment

  1. Darrell
    Reply June 01, 10:16 #1 Darrell

    Just now went on YouTube and listened to a few clips from this album. Pretty good. The vocal comparison that came to mind for me right away was James Blackwood. Maybe I am the only one who thought about that. :-)



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