CD Review: Karen Peck & New River – Hope For All Nations

CD Review: Karen Peck & New River – Hope For All Nations

Since 2009, Karen Peck & New River has issued a major CD release every two years. Hope For All Nations is their first recording since Ricky Braddy joined the group in 2015. It’s also the first CD to feature Karen’s children Matthew and Kari on the cover (though they’ve both been traveling with the group for several years). Also, family members Rickey Gooch (Karen’s husband) and Joseph Jackson (Susan’s son) appear on the CD’s back cover. Both men travel full-time with Karen Peck & New River, but don’t typically appear on stage.

Before we get to the music, I want to thank Daywind’s graphic design department for including copyright dates in the credits. It’s a mystery to me why record labels have drifted away from this practice in recent years.

Nine of the twelve songs on Hope For All Nations are co-written by Karen while five are co-written by the CD’s producer Wayne Haun. The list of co-writers is an impressive who’s who of gospel music’s current songwriting community including Jeff Bumgardner, Joel Lindsey, Lee Black, Benji Cowart, Joseph Habedank, Daniel Doss, Kenna West, Dave Clark, Michael Farren, Gerald Crabb, and Rodney Griffin. The two songs not co-written by either Karen or Wayne are “Who He Is, What He Does” (Lee Black, Jason Cox, Kenna West) and “All You Need” (Tim Lovelace, Nathan Woodard).

It’s great when a CD kicks off with a familiar, though completely new song. Hope For All Nations does just that with “Love Will Never Give Up.” This fun song¬†features Karen’s strong soprano tones that have always defined the group’s sound.

Up next is the dramatic title song which is already catching the attention of fans due to the recent release of a concept video filmed in Honduras a few weeks ago. (VIEW IT HERE!)

The soulful “What He Is, What He Does” is a perfect showcase for Ricky Braddy’s first solo feature. Braddy’s vocal style on this track is similar to NewSong’s 2002 version of “People Get Ready,” but at a quicker pace.

“The Reason” slows the pace for a soulful worship song featuring Susan. I’ve always enjoyed her soothing alto solos.

“Gotta Be Saved” brings back the raw earthy slide-guitar driven sound of “Revival,” but in a slower tempo. Karen really shines in this type of musical setting.

“I’ll Keep On Praying” goes back to basics with a simple acoustic guitar arpeggio intro. This song is in a nostaligic 12/8 rhythm. The duet features Kari Gooch and Ricky Braddy prominently with thicker harmonies joining in for the final choruses.

The second six songs on Hope For All Nations are just as good as the first six. I probably should mention that the Isaacs, Greater Vision, Jeff & Sheri Easter, the Bowling Family, Triuphant, & The Whisnants join in on the final track, “I’m Gonna Love My Neighbor.” I won’t describe the second six songs in further detail, but they’re well worth checking out.

Some years ago, my ears would get tired before reaching the end of a Karen Peck & New River CD, because about 80% of the songs featured Karen and song styles tended to be similar. Of course, Karen is still featured more than any other singer in the group, but Hope For The Nations works so much better as a collection of songs now that there are four singers sharing the spotlight. Karen Peck & New River’s vocal sound is still distinctive and always will be as long as Karen is the primary singer, but the amount of variety they now present makes listening to their full-length CD in one sitting much more enjoyable.

As an aside, I’m curious to know if our readers would prefer to see a group like Karen Peck & New River release a 12-song CD of 100% brand new songs every two years as they’ve done with Hope For All Nations, or would you rather like to have the opportunity to buy a 10-song CD with three or four of those songs being cover songs every 12 months?

Label: Daywind Records
Producer: Wayne Haun
Released Date: June 23, 2017
Songs: Love Will Never Give Up; Hope For All Nations; Who He Is, What He Does; The Reason; Gotta Be Saved; I’ll Keep On Praying; The River; Victory Is Mine; God’s Got A Blessing; All You Need; I Know I’ll Be There; I’m Gonna Love My Neighbor
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Overall Rating
4.5 out of 5

4.5

Good
4.5 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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