CD Review: The Simpson Family – Against All Odds
Producer: Danny Crawford
Song Titles: Changed; Just Inside The Gate; Haven Of Grace; No Stone To Throw; You Can Use Me; Sinner’s Prayer; Closer To Him; God Doesn’t Listen To The Odds; Only Little Lamb; Tell The Mountain (About Your God); That Moment; From The Bottom Of My Brand New Heart; Be Blessed; Beautiful Beside Me
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
The Simpson Family is a group of siblings (Hope, Sabrina, & Isaac) based in Marbury, Alabama. Their father, Ricky Simpson, co-writes some of their material. Their most recent CD, Against All Odds, was released in late 2016. It offers a consistent country sound with a touch of bluegrass sprinkled in from time to time. Players include David Johnson, Jeremy Medkiff, Tony Creasman, and producer Danny Crawford on a variety of instruments.
There are eleven tracks plus three “bonus tracks” for a total of fourteen songs on Against All Odds. The liner notes clearly indicate who is featured on each song. This is a helpful feature I wish ALL vocal groups would adopt. Hope and/or Sabrina sing solos on twelve songs; Isaac is only featured on “Sinner’s Prayer.” There’s also a guest vocal by Karen Peck Gooch on “Tell The Mountain (About Your God),” appearances by Summit Ensemble on two bonus tracks, and solos by Monty Lane Allen on the final bonus track, “Beautiful Beside Me.”
Against All Odds starts slow with a remake of Jared Dixon’s “Changed.” The slower pace is a sign of what’s to come. “Haven Of Grace” does have a playful quality thanks to David Johnson’s fiddle and ukulele work, but it’s “You Can Use Me” five tracks into the CD that finally brings some rhythmic energy to the mix.
Like the first four songs, selections six through eleven are by and large slower paced affairs. One highlight is the first radio single, “God Doesn’t Listen To The Odds,” featuring Sabrina delivering an encouraging message. “Tell The Mountain (About Your God)” is another highlight, not only because Karen Peck Gooch’s vocals add variety, but also due to the quality of the lyric.
When I see songs labeled “bonus tracks,” I’m always curious to hear why those tracks were set apart from the main CD. The first two bonus tracks on Against All Odds feature Summit Ensemble, a group of seven females that includes Hope and Sabrina. “From The Bottom Of My Brand New Heart” has Sabrina on the solos over a pop-oriented rhythm. This provides a welcome contrast. Up next is “Be Blessed,” a Yolanda Adams cover song featuring Hope. I considered these songs vs. the first eleven songs on the CD, and I have to say I prefer both bonus tracks by a considerable margin. Sabrina sounds more comfortable letting loose on “From The Bottom Of My Brand New Heart.” Hope’s version of “Be Blessed” is not at the level of the Yolanda Adams original, but her take is more compelling than anything else she sings on Against All Odds. I should add that the final bonus track is a tribute to the mother of the members of The Simpson Family sung by Monty Lane Allen. With the only featured singer being a guest vocalist, this song feels a bit out of context.
In summary, The Simpson Family is two talented singers trying to fit a mature family group mold when their vocal skills would probably be better suited to front a fun youth band. I say two singers, because there’s not really enough of Isaac’s singing on Against All Odds to make a fair call regarding his potential. As a whole, Against All Odds is a decent enough recording. That being said, if I were to base my decision on the material found on Against All Odds, I’d be more inclined to make the effort to attend a Summit Ensemble concert than a concert by The Simpson Family.
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.