CD Review: Hoppers – Life Is Good

CD Review: Hoppers – Life Is Good

hoppers2016lifeisgoodmaxProducers: Lari Goss, Michael Sykes, Michael Hopper, Kim Hopper
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: Jesus, The One; Life Is Good; Grace Will Get To You; Walk Two; Brethren We Have Met To Worship; If We Ever Gotta Look; Until You’ve Known The Love Of God; Song Of Moses; My Ransom; By And By; Before The Sun Goes Down
Rating: 4 Stars

Kim Hopper joined the Hoppers in 1989. Dean and Mike were already in the group at that point along with Claude and Connie, so those five members are completing 27 years together since Kim joined as I write this review. Other members have come and gone in that time period including some vocalists, but since 1999, the group’s CD covers have only featured family members. 2016’s Life Is Good extends that tradition by adding Dean and Kim’s daughter Karlye to the front cover.

Although their tour schedule has never let up, it’s been more than four years since the Hoppers released 2012’s Count Me In. The interior notes for Life Is Good address this gap in new material, referencing “many pauses, holds, and blatant end stops” in the recording process including the death of longtime producer Lari Goss. Lari’s brother Roni was brought in to assist with vocal arrangements after his brother’s passing. Russell Mauldin also provided some string arrangements. Inside by each song title is either one or two asterisks indicating who produced that track, Goss (*) or Michael Sykes (**). The Goss tracks specifically are “Jesus, The One,” “Brethren, We Have Met To Worship,” and “Song Of Moses.” Goss also is credited for co-producing “Before The Sun Goes Down” with Sykes.

“Jesus, The One” has already been making the rounds on radio for several months. Ever since recording the tremendously successful “Jerusalem,” the Hoppers have typically included one or two Paula Stefanovich songs on their CDs and for good reason; “Jesus, The One” was the number one song on the Singing News Top 80 chart for the month of August 2016. “Song Of Moses” is the second Stefanovich song on Life Is Good. Both songs end with Kim doing what she does so well, building to yet another epic finish.

The second radio single from Life Is Good is the up-tempo “If We Ever Gotta Look.” For me, the best up-tempo choice on the entire CD is a toss-up between this one and the title track which is written by Mark Mathes. Other highlights from Life Is Good include the fun “Grace Will Get To You” (Ronnie Hinson) featuring Connie, Karlye’s verses on the reflective “My Ransom” (Cindy Morgan/Philip Madeira), and Connie’s heartfelt rendering of “Before The Sun Goes Down” (Suzanne Jennings/Tanya Sykes/Michael Sykes).

We know the recording process stretched across many months with several individuals stepping in at various spots to continue the work to complete Life Is Good. With so many cooks in the kitchen, it would not be surprising if the result was a rather random sounding collection of songs. That isn’t the case, however. While the tracks produced by Sykes tend to lean more toward country and the tracks produced by Goss have an orchestrated movie soundtrack quality, they go together well. The only song that really feels so different that an argument might be made that it doesn’t belong with the others is “Until You’ve Known The Love Of God,” but that is due more to Claude’s vocal than the instrumentation or style. With eleven tracks, consider that one a bonus. The rest, perhaps surprisingly, fit together nicely. Going forward, I hope to see the Hoppers work with a variety of producers to add new layers and contrasts to their sound.

Check out the CD preview below:

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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1 Comment

  1. James Marlon
    Reply October 28, 14:56 #1 James Marlon

    Great assessment David Bruce! And I agree whole heartedly! Its great to hear Karlye’s unique voice to the mix. She should help reach the younger audience. I look the ‘church feel’ that just about all these songs have. It ministers to the listener “who’s listening” with a spiritual ear. Nice job Hoppers! We will sorely miss you Lari Goss!

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