Review: Johnny Minick & The Stewart Brothers

Review: Johnny Minick & The Stewart Brothers

Johnny Minick & The Stewart Brothers have lofty goals with their self-titled release. They want to create a new genre known as “Western Gospel.” To define the scope of this Western Gospel sound, they set the following percentages for their debut CD: 40% of their songs recreate the sound of an epic western movie soundtrack (Magnificent Seven, etc.), another 40% are in the style of the Sons Of The Pioneers, and the final 20% of songs are classic western swing.

I listened to this recording before checking out their website and getting the backstory. It’s quite a drastic shift to hear the opening western swing track (Martha Carson’s “Satisfied”) followed by the bombastic movie score setting of the second selection (“I Am Bound For The Promised Land” with a bit of “Beulah Land”). On the first pass, I thought Spotify had jumped to a different artist, but then I recognized Minick’s distinctive vocal singing the melody.

The first three songs including “I Love His Name” all feature Minick. By the way, “I Love His Name” was written by Minick’s dad. Phil Stewart sings melody on Stuart Hamblen’s timeless “It Is No Secret What God Can Do.” He’s also featured on the first two verses of “This Little Light Of Mine,” followed by Minick on the third verse, with Lonnie taking over the lead at the end. Lonnie Stewart is featured on “That Wonderful Someone,” a song previously recorded by Patsy Cline. “I Saw The Light” features Phil again.

Up to this point, there’s a good mix of tempos, but it’s slow going for the rest of the CD. “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” moves at an appropriate “walking” pace, and I enjoyed the easygoing three-part harmony. “When He Reached Down His Hand For Me” showcases Minick on the second verse, but this one is at a rather ponderous tempo. The final track revisits Stuart Hamblen’s classic “Until Then.”

Minick’s voice has been part of the Goodman family tradition for so long that it’s hard to not think of them any time he carries the melody. He does fit nicely in this style (or, I should say, these three styles). Speaking of mixing styles, I do admire the vision of Johnny Minick & The Stewart Brothers to put out a musical concept recording. The sheer scope from the lighthearted western swing opener to the dragging seriousness of “When He Reached Down His Hand For Me” is just too wide. Ten tracks in Sons Of The Pioneers mode with one “big western movie” track thrown in as a momentary diversion would have been more appealing. I’d also love to hear an entire gospel recording of nothing but western swing in the style of Bob Wills. Song selection is a bit disappointing. They could have included a few more original songs as opposed to so many well-known standards.

My rating for this release is 3 1/2 stars on a scale of 1 to 5.

Label: Green Hill Records
*Producer: Johnny Minick
Song Titles: Satisfied; I Am Bound For The Promised Land/Beulah Land (Medley); I Love His Name; It Is No Secret What God Can Do; This Little Light Of Mine; That Wonderful Someone; I Saw The Light; Just A Closer Walk With Thee; When He Reached Down His Hand For Me; Until Then
Rating: 3.5 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: February 23, 2018
Product Version Reviewed: Stream (Spotify)

*Credits based on Spotify’s credits listing

For more backstory on this CD, watch this video:

Overall rating
3.5 out of 5


3.5 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 and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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