CD Review: Steve Ladd – No Excuses, No Regrets (EP)

CD Review: Steve Ladd – No Excuses, No Regrets (EP)

Label: Sonlite Records
Producer: Cody McVey
Songs: All Things Are Possible God; Chain Breaker; What You’ve Already Done; No Excuses, No Regrets; Since I Laid My Burden Down; Living Water
Rating: 4 Stars

Steve Ladd’s No Excuses, No Regrets is the second six-song EP I’ve reviewed in as many days. Unlike Misty Freeman’s Turn The Page, which features all new songs, Ladd’s EP is a carefully curated collection of mostly cover songs. I could not find a previous recording of “What You’ve Already Done,” but the other five tracks are remakes.

The exciting opening track, “All Things Are Possible God,” was recorded previously by a group called New Vision. Ladd quickly reaffirms his ability to convey a clear message at a quick, attention-demanding pace. This sort of song would be a great concert opener, so it’s nice to see it positioned at the beginning of the CD as well.

I reviewed Triumphant’s cover of Zach Williams’ “Chain Breaker” a few weeks ago. “Chain Breaker” is the sort of song everyone wants to sing, and will likely be covered many more times in the coming years. Ladd’s version, while good, is the least interesting of the three I’ve heard so far. The programmed percussion samples under the first two verses tend to stifle the urgency of the lyric. The levels do amp up nicely for the bridge, though. I also like the way the energy comes down well before the end of the track for a soft landing, contrasting William’s original version which stays strong right up to the end.

“What You’ve Already Done” dials the level down to just an acoustic piano (Jason Webb), allowing Ladd to display his ability to sing a tender ballad. The natural temptation with a song that starts in this style would be to add strings on the second verse and then keep adding more instruments until there’s a huge orchestrated finish. Instead, Webb’s piano simply responds to Ladd’s dynamics for the entire song. This approach is much more effective.

“No Excuses, No Regrets” was recorded by Overflow in 2014, a group that includes one of the songs co-writers, Cliff Duren. Like “All Things Are Possible God,” Ladd’s version has a driving rhythmic foundation that makes you want to hear more.

Ladd shifts to a higher gear for the traditional “Since I Laid My Burden Down.” He shares a word of testimony before the fourth verse, then the excitement builds more to a firm finish, or so you might think. After a brief moment of silence, the tempo kicks into double-time, followed by another minute and a half of sweat-inducing rhythms. It’s pure fun.

Most folks over the age of 35 will remember Bob Carlisle’s genre crossing hit, “Butterfly Kisses.” On that same 1997 CD, Shades Of Grace, was Carlisle’s best song ever, “Living Water.” It’s a true worship SONG with both verses and choruses that are sung straight to God Almighty. When I saw the song title on Ladd’s CD, I thought perhaps it was a different song that shared the same title. I was pleased to learn he had indeed remade Carlisle’s great song, and also pleased when I heard it. Ladd’s version is every bit as moving as Carlisle’s original.

Cover songs often fail to measure up, but Ladd mostly avoids this common pitfall on No Excuses, No Regrets. He selected one song that was nearly forgotten (“Living Water”), two songs that had not been promoted heavily (“All Things Are Possible God” and “No Excuses, No Regrets”), and then he took a classic (“Since I Laid My Burden Down”) farther than you’d typically hear it. Now, it’s true that “Chain Breaker” is somewhat hampered, but this is not at all due to Ladd’s vocals. In that instance, better instrument selection on the track would have made a substantial improvement.

Overall, No Excuses, No Regrets is a very good collection. Six songs just isn’t enough.

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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4 Comments

  1. Darrell
    Reply May 13, 18:25 #1 Darrell

    “Overall, No Excuses, No Regrets is a very good collection. Six songs just isn’t enough.” I would agree with you. Not sure if I’d want to spend my money for 6 songs. I’m sure an EP is cheaper to produce than a full length album. But it leaves the listener wanting more. On the flip side, if an album has too many songs, I almost get tired of it by the end. “Sometimes It Takes A Mountain” by the GVB (14 songs) would be one example.




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    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply May 13, 21:45 David Bruce Murray Author

      Well, in fairness to this marketing concept, EPs are usually sold for less than you’d typically pay for a full-length CD.

      Ladd’s can be pre-ordered right now for about $5.99, for example.

      As for production cost, it’s not necessarily cheaper when you consider they’re spending the same to design and package the EP as they would a full-length/full-price CD. In other words, it’s not cheaper when you adjust for the lower retail price point of the EP.




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      • Darrell
        Reply May 13, 22:00 Darrell

        Good point. I didn’t take into consideration the cost of the design and packaging. Maybe the point is to get people to pick up (and like) this inexpensive music so that they will, in turn, purchase a full length album.




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        • David Bruce Murray
          Reply May 13, 23:09 David Bruce Murray Author

          To a casual fan who only buys CDs at concerts, I suppose it doesn’t matter so much. They see the artist once and buy whatever he’s selling at the time.

          To the more diehard fan who buys every new CD a particular artist puts out, it seems more like a raw deal. If they buy the EP now, they’ll have to buy the same six songs again in a few months. If they wait for the full-length CD, there’s music available by their favorite artist that they don’t own now.

          I suppose this will all be moot once we’re 100% getting music either as digital downloads or from streaming services




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