Audio Review: Endless Highway – East To West

Audio Review: Endless Highway – East To West

East To West is the first release by Endless Highway since they changed their name from The Joylanders last year. With the name change, the group also downsized from six members to four. They’re still a family group featuring Jason and Vanessa Griggs and their children, Allison and Jay.

I am rather puzzled as to why this group changed names. From a marketing standpoint, The Joylanders is a more memorable descriptor. Check both names out for yourself on Google and see which one gets you to this group’s website the quickest. I thought their rationale for the change might be made clear with this CD release. “Endless Highway” sounds like the name of a group that sings country, bluegrass, or perhaps folk music, but East To West is not consistently any of those styles.

Their cover version of “It’s A Highway To Heaven” stays true to the song’s black gospel origins. “Under The Sea” is a by-the-book ballad starting with just a piano on the verse, then building to a big finish. “It’s His Story” is a fun blue-eyed soul track with a horn section to punch up the excitement. The lyric hook re-imagines a familiar cliché: “It’s His story and I’m sticking to it.” “This Is The Grace I Know” has a lighthearted intro that returns to introduce the second verse, but the song settles into a more serious setting (and message) when the lyrics are presented.

“Unbroken Promise” is a carefully orchestrated anthem that could (and should) be transitioned to a church choral arrangement. “Count It All Joy” features an exciting track. Endless Highway gets it done, but they aren’t quite to the level yet where they can go toe-to-toe with a barrage of thrilling guitar, piano, and organ licks in the way a singer like Arthur Rice might. “The Richest Crown” is another anthem that could easily become a song for a church choir. It would make a excellent centerpiece for an Easter musical.

The song that most matches what I expected a group named Endless Highway to sound like is “I’ve Got The Son In My Eyes.” This solid country song was written by the group’s father figure, Jason Griggs. “Go Ahead And Shout” continues the country flavor, and has a neat little pause before the word “shout” at the end of each verse. East To West concludes with a pop-flavored ballad titled “Beautiful Scars Of Love” and a cool funk piece titled “Out Of The Deep.” Both are good, but somewhat out of character in terms of style compared to the other songs on the CD.

Endless Highway may not blow you away with virtuoso vocal performances, but East To West is pleasing music overall. Despite hopping from style to style a bit more than you might expect, the songs themselves are excellent, featuring well-written lyrics with clear gospel messages. It’s important to note that every member of the Griggs family sings with clear diction, so it’s easy to understand those well-written lyrics. The music production is also very good. (Perhaps it’s a little too good on “Count It All Joy.”)

My rating for East To West is 4 Stars (on a scale of 1-5).

Label: Skyland Records
Producer: Jeff Collins
Song Titles: It’s A Highway To Heaven; Under The Sea; It’s His Story; This Is The Grace I Know; Unbroken Promise; Count It All Joy; The Richest Crown; I’ve Got The Son In My Eyes; Go Ahead And Shout; Beautiful Scars Of Love; Out Of The Deep
Release Date: Tomorrow, May 25, 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

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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