CD Review: Triumphant Quartet – Thankful
Producer: Wayne Haun
Song Titles: We Welcome Your Holy Spirit; Chain Breaker; God Will Always Be God; The Cross Is All The Proof I Need; One Happy Man; Thankful, So Thankful; I Know Him; Never Assume; Grace And Mercy; Bottom Of The Barrel; My God Called Me This Morning
Label: StowTown Records
Rating: 4 Stars
Triumphant Quartet is in their 15th year with the same vocalists. This group has produced a steady flow of new recordings over the years including several “custom” recordings; that is to say, a release with no backing from a major label. Thankful does have the backing of a major label, StowTown Records, and is Triumphant’s third release for StowTown in as many years. StowTown partner Wayne Haun handled production duties. Five of the eleven songs on Thankful were co-written by Triumphant baritone/lead singer Scotty Inman.
2015’s Living In Harmony started with a declarative anthem, but Thankful begins with a gentler worship song, “We Welcome Your Holy Spirit” (Mark Condon). The lyric is strong enough to stand on its own, but this arrangement adds a line from Doris Akers’ “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” Opinions vary on this practice. Some like it. I find it distracting. Up next is a cover of the recent hit song “Chain Breaker” (Jonathan Smith, Mia Fieldes, Zach Williams). Triumphant’s arrangement is similar to the Zach Williams’ version. Of course, they add full quartet harmonies on the choruses to contrast Scotty Inman’s solo verses.
Continuing at a slower pace, “God Will Always Be God” (Scott Inman, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey) also features Scotty on the verses. Wayne Haun’s understated orchestrations set just the right mood. “The Cross Is All The Proof I Need” (Scott Inman, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey) extends the slower-paced, relaxed setting. Clayton Inman delivers the first verse, then, after a chorus and key change, David Sutton carries the melody as the arrangement builds to a big finish.
“One Happy Man” (Marcia Henry, Lee Black) is a showcase for Eric Bennett’s melodic bass vocals. As you’d expect from a story song about a man’s funeral, the speed of this track is also on the slow side. “Thankful, So Thankful” (Scott Inman, Lee Black) finally picks up the tempo with a banjo adding a bluegrass feel.
It’s back to a slow orchestrated setting for “I Know Him” (Kirk Talley), a great ballad featuring David Sutton. “Never Assume” (Scott Inman, Lee Black) is a mid-tempo feature for Clayton Inman. The remake of the Mississippi Mass Choir’s “Grace And Mercy” (Franklin D. Williams) is at a dirge tempo. Now granted, it does move slightly faster than the choir did it back in 1993, but the choir “got into it” a good bit more.
“Bottom Of The Barrel” (Scott Inman, Joel Lindsey) is one of those big bold songs like we’ve come to expect from Triumphant. Eric Bennett should carry the melody on this sort of song more often; like two or three per CD. “My God Called Me This Morning” (Traditional) is a tribute to the Fairfield Four’s version. Triumphant pretty much follows the same arrangement, and it’s quite a good effort. In a concert setting, this song should be a nice contrast, giving fans a fun treat they might not have expected.
The CD comes packaged in a nice looking “digipak” format like many groups are using now. I wish the songwriter credits had been placed somewhere other than under the disc holder, as it’s difficult to read in the center. That being said, I’m glad to see easy-to-read, clear font design throughout all of the packaging.
Triumphant is and remains one of my favorite quartets. Taken individually, there are some great songs on Thankful. “Chain Breaker” is one of the best songs to come along in years, and I like Triumphant’s version just as much as the original, perhaps even more. In fact, when I heard the Zach Williams version, the hope crossed my mind that Triumphant might cover it. I was very pleased when I learned my hope was coming true a few days prior to receiving the CD, and I was equally pleased when I heard the song.
I have to count off marks for the pacing on Thankful, though. Thankful drags; big time. You’d never hear this many slow songs in a row at a Triumphant concert. It’s puzzling that the decision makers felt such a collection of songs would hold a listener’s interest on a CD.
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.