Must Buy or Not: “The Favorite Hymns of Fanny Crosby” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Must Buy or Not: “The Favorite Hymns of Fanny Crosby” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

ehss-fannycrosbyThe Favorite Hymns of Fanny Crosby
Produced by Wayne Haun
StowTown Records
www.erniehaase.com
Format: CD & Digital

Tune-O-Meter: Medium/Low

SONG TITLES: Praise Him! Praise Him! – Redeemed, How I Love To Proclaim It! – Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior – Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross/In The Cross – Blessed Assurance – I Am Thine, O Lord/Draw Me Nearer – He Hideth My Soul – Tell Me The Story Of Jesus

When the Signature Sound Quartet first debuted, they were a more traditional quartet, but in short order, they found their niche by pushing the boundaries of what a quartet can do on stage and on record. Over the last few years, however, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound seems to have matured as a group, leaving behind the lighter fare for more solid lyrical content and reigning in the dance moves a bit.

For this “Must Buy or Not” feature, Phil Boles and Kyle Boreing share their thoughts on EHSS’s latest offering. Is this a worthy addition to your collection? Find out below….

PHIL BOLES

  • Hymn projects always have to find a delicate balance to the original and new interpretations. This has been accomplished very well with this project, Devin McGlamery gives a perfect injection of feeling into “He Hideth My Soul”, which has been recorded many, many times over the years.
  • Ernie’s tender vocal delivery on “Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross/In The Cross” is a perfect example of why tenors do not have to belt it out at the top of their range to communicate a lyric effectively.
  • The vocal blend is maturing and starting to gel nicely, the addition of Dustin Doyle has been a great hire. Dustin shows some great step out lines and showcases a great range.
  • “Redeemed, How I Love To Proclaim It” is probably my favourite track, the energetic track compliments the uplifting lyrics beautifully. I can see this being a great post intermission opener.

KYLE BOREING

  • If EHSS got flack for their “fluff” songs like “Every Time” and their recut of “Stand By Me,” then this album should put to rest any reservations about their actual musical abilities.
  • Wayne Haun’s production shines on this album. I love the “celtic/country” sound of some of these songs, especially “Redeemed” and “Praise Him.” They bring a fresh sound to the songs without going overboard or abandoning the original composition. I get the feeling that, if Ms. Crosby were here to listen to this album, she would approve.
  • “Blessed Assurance,” which is very difficult to tweak without destroying due to it’s 9/8 meter, is given a bit of a bluesy feel without losing the original meter, giving Paul Harkey a feature that seems to go over very well in concert.
  • Devin McGlamery sounds great on “I Am Thine O Lord/Draw Me Nearer.”

KYLE BOREING

  • For as much as I like “Blessed Assurance,” I am just not a fan of Paul Harkey’s solos. That’s nothing against his singing in general; it’s just not my preference. I prefer a smoother bass vocal vs the more operatic approach. To each their own.
  • At 8 tracks, this album is the shortest of EHSS’s frontline releases. Fanny Crosby was one of the most prolific songwriters of her (or any) time, having written upwards of 8,000 hymns and songs. You’d think they might have found a couple more to bring it in at the traditional 10 tracks.

PHIL BOLES

  • Similar to Kyle, I would have enjoyed a further few tracks to fill out the album, there certainly is not a shortage of material to work with. Maybe further instalments are in the pipeline?
  • I praised Ernie’s vocal delivery on “Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross/In The Cross”, however I would have preferred that the spoken verse be sung, not spoken, more of a preference than a dislike.

PHIL BOLES

  • YES – this project showcases all you would expect from a top quartet, great songs, vocals and above all else, fresh yet respectful arrangements that breathe new life into old favourites. More of the same please! I’d like to see a series of these projects, with invigorating interpretations of “The Favourite Hymns of Charles Wesley” for example.

KYLE BOREING

  • YES – If you are only familiar with the short ties, spiked/highlighted hair, and dance moves, then I highly recommend giving this album a chance to show just how talented EHSS really are. If you enjoyed their first few (more restrained) albums, you’ll likewise enjoy this recording. Just an FYI – as of yet, it is not available for streaming via Spotify.

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 www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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