Audio Review: The Collingsworth Family – Mercy & Love

Audio Review: The Collingsworth Family – Mercy & Love

 (Stow Town Records opted not to provide a review copy in CD or download format to MusicScribe, so this review is based on Spotify’s streaming version.)

The Collingsworth Family began touring full-time in 2000. Over the ensuing 18 years, their fans grew to expect strong production quality, solid song selection, good harmony, and blazing piano solos. It has been three years since their last major music release, That Day Is Coming. Let’s take a look at their latest, Mercy & Love.

“It’s Runs In The Family” features a clever lyric by Daryl K. Williams and Kirk Talley set to a pleasant up-tempo rhythm with a standard, but effective orchestration. The cover of Dottie Rambo’s standard “For What Earthly Reason” is rather ponderous at nearly six minutes in length. “God Still Delivers” (John Mathis/Marty Funderburk) moves along as a reasonable mid-tempo pace, but the arrangement stretches out to nearly five minutes after a fake-out ending and reprise of the chorus. I don’t mind a fake ending if the reprise adds something fresh, but this sounds like a copy/paste sort of deal.

“Magnify Him” is a remake of a song originally recorded by the Talleys in 1984. “Mercy & Love” is one of the more enjoyable tunes, but sadly, another fake ending is copied and pasted to make the song last another minute…even the step-out vocal “oh yes, I’m saved” is identical. “Altar Of Grace” begins with a soft nod to the traditional New Britain melody, then proceeds with an excellent worship lyric. Even though this song is just a couple seconds shy of five minutes in length, the quality of the arrangement is enough to sustain interest, making this one of the top tracks on Mercy & Love. “The Lamb” would work nicely in an Easter musical for choir. The big-band arrangements on “Live Like Jesus” and “Awesome Power Of Prayer” provide a welcome contrast to the more plodding tracks on Mercy & Love.

If you make music buying decisions based on sheer quantity and length, you should be happy. At 7 minutes 21 seconds, the “Casting Our Crowns/Worthy The Lamb” track dwarfs the other 13 tracks. This arrangement comes immediately after “Bring It Broken” and “Do You Know The Savior,” two more rather slow tracks. The album ends with a six-minute, dramatic piano solo arrangement of “We Shall Behold Him.”

The disadvantage of writing a review based on a source streaming over the internet is the higher frequencies tend to be slightly muted. It could be that the music is actually mixed that way, or it could just be affected somewhat in the delivery. It’s difficult to tell for sure, but I’ve attempted to be as fair as the medium will allow when assigning a rating. More to the point, my rating of 3 1/2 Stars for Mercy & Love should not be viewed as a negative reflection on the production quality, any specific song, or the performance of the singers in the Collingsworth Family. This should go without saying, but I also want to be clear in stating that my rating is never intended to demean a group’s concert appeal nor their ministry.

Instead, the rating in this particular case primarily reflects arranging decisions. Stretching songs out more than necessary and cramming too many songs that sound virtually the same on the same CD is a poor decision. And fake endings…

Label: Stow Town Records
Song Titles:
It Runs In The Family; For What Earthly Reason; God Still Delivers; Magnify Him; Mercy & Love; Altar Of Grace; The Lamb; Live Like Jesus; Your Ways Are Higher Than Mine; Awesome Power Of Prayer; Bring It Broken; Do You Know The Savior; Casting Our Crowns/Worthy The Lamb; We Shall Behold Him/The King Is Coming (piano solo)
Release Date: September 7, 2018
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Overall rating
3.5 out of 5

3.5

Average
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 SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

MusicScribe Comments

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8 Comments

  1. Darrell
    Reply September 10, 16:16 #1 Darrell

    All I had to do was go to ITunes and see that this album has 14 songs, 11 of which are over 4 minutes in length, with the entire album clocking in at over 1 hour. I’m sure these are great songs with good lyrics that might work well in a concert setting. But I am a “less is more” type of person. So an album of mostly slow songs that is over an hour long isn’t for me. :-)

  2. Brad
    Reply September 11, 21:51 #2 Brad

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I would much rather get 13 songs for my $15 than 9 songs. Also, some of the songs that you would probably guess are slow songs due to the length are not really slow. They are just longer due to the “fake” endings. This is my favorite album (so far) of 2018. I have also had the opportunity to see several of these new songs in the concert setting and they certainly work well there.

  3. Tad Kirkland
    Reply September 11, 22:39 #3 Tad Kirkland

    I feel like every Collingsworth CD cover looks the same. Maybe it’s the logo or usually being matcha matchy. I wanted to love it more than I do. I loved them bringing back the Talley’s songs but don’t like them as well as the originals. My favorites off this one are Broken and Higher Ways.

  4. Joshua Cottrell
    Reply September 12, 16:39 #4 Joshua Cottrell

    This is an incredible album, I had it a week or two before the release and have much of it memorized already. As is usual with a new album for me, I play it to death. lol The only song that I think doesn’t fit is the title track, “Mercy and Love”, it sounds like something the Martins would have done years ago, which doesn’t fit this family. “Your Ways are Higher”, will make you tear up.

  5. John Situmbeko
    Reply September 14, 02:58 #5 John Situmbeko

    This is by far the best album by the Collingsworth Family. I enjoyed all the songs, except Live Like Jesus.
    This review painted a very bad picture. It sounds like listening to the music was a tedious chore that you couldn’t wait to finish as quickly as possible.”Fake endings” really? Where did that term come from?

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply September 14, 09:36 David Bruce Murray Author

      The term “fake ending” has been used for years to described a spot in a song where it seemingly comes to an end, then starts up again. Most artists will add some alterations to the song after using a fake ending, but the Collingsworth Family in this case clearly just copied the fake ending on their audio editing software to extend the length of it.

      Some people enjoy hearing identical repetition, but it is a rather lazy way to add length to a song, especially when the song was good enough without needing any extra length on an already long album.

      • Darrell
        Reply September 14, 10:20 Darrell

        This seems to be a tool commonly used with the Collingsworth Family. I’m especially thinking of one of their biggest hits “Show A Little Bit Of Love And Kindness”. That song (especially the chorus) moves along at a good pace with lots of great harmonies. But, tacked on to the end is a “fake ending” that drags the song out to 4 minutes & 14 seconds. Which, in my mind, is completely pointless.

        • David Bruce Murray
          Reply September 14, 15:36 David Bruce Murray Author

          Yes, and I would add that it’s great to have that tool ready to go for a concert setting where the crowd is getting into it and wanting more. I just think it detracts from a studio album version of a song to use a fake ending followed by an identical ending. At the very least, they could pitch the soprano up on the final chord to make it sound slightly different. At the very least, they could pitch the soprano up on the final chord to make it sound slightly DIFFERENT.

          (See what I mean?!?)

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