New Music Reviews – Early May 2019

New Music Reviews – Early May 2019

Due to the large number of new releases in May, reviews will be spread over two articles. Enjoy the wealth of new music!


Steven Curtis Chapman gets the Gaither Gospel Series treatment on A Great Adventure: Live Solo Performances Of Timeless Hits.

Pros: Hearing Chapman sing with just his acoustic guitar for accompaniment took me back to the first time I saw him in concert in the early years of his career. Chapman is a capable enough singer, of course, but the real reason this stripped-down recording is effective is because Chapman’s songwriting has consistently been great for more than three decades.

Cons: As I said, Chapman is a capable enough singer, but when all but one instrument is stripped away and there are 13 tracks, the songs do start to run together sonically. Thankfully, they do switch from guitar to piano for a couple of tracks. Having two or three instruments on the same track or perhaps some background vocalists would have added some much needed variety.

Label: Gaither Music Group
Song Titles: Lord Of The Dance/No Better Place; Remember To Remember; The Great Adventure; He Touched Me/There’s Something About That Name/Because He Lives; More To This Life; Be Still And Know; I Will Be Here; Cinderella; Glorious Unfolding; Together; His Strength Is Perfect; When Love Takes You In; My Redeemer Is Faithful & True
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Rating: 4 Stars (Scale of 1-5 Stars)
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Sweet By And By is purportedly Irish singer and harpist Órla Fallon’s take on Americana music. Some time before becoming a Green Hill release, this album was released with only 12 songs on the Claddagh Records label and didn’t include the “Americana” branding. “Amazing Grace,” “Because He Lives,” and “I’ll Fly Away” were added to flesh the total out to 15 tracks (most likely to make it more interesting to Gaither’s traditional gospel fans).

Pros: The lilting quality of Fallon’s voice is a perfect match for these classic songs. It was good to be reminded of songs like “Five Hundred Miles” and “I Still Miss Someone.” The three added songs feature better instrumentation than the original twelve, and “I’ll Fly Away” offers much needed variety in terms of tempo vs. the rest of the song choices.

Cons: The pace of this recording trends slow and despite Fallon’s best efforts, does not work hard enough to sustain interest as it progresses. Some instrumentation is a bit too busy and not always precise when it comes to timing, distracting the listener’s ear from the charming quality of Fallon’s vocals.

Label: Green Hill
Song Titles: Five Hundred Miles; Amazing Grace; Feet Of A Dancer; Love Me Tender; Because He Lives; I Still Miss Someone; When The Right One Comes Along; In The Sweet By And By; Remember Me; My Forever Friend; Tennessee Waltz; I’ll Fly Away; Sonny’s Dream; Hard Times Come Again No More; How Great Thou Art
Rating: 3 Stars (Scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Craig Duncan created “Smoky Mountain” concept recordings for many years featuring traditional instruments like hammered dulcimer, fiddle, and mandolin. Last fall, Duncan released Colonial Christmas, and now the release of Colonial Hymns would suggest the term “colonial” may be the future codeword for Duncan’s style of music.

Pros: Duncan’s sound has remained consistent since 1989 when the very first Smoky Mountain Hymns recording was released on the Brentwood label. He’s done this for 30 years, and his fans know exactly what they’re getting when they buy his music.

Cons: Don’t let the switch from “Smoky Mountain” to “Colonial” branding fool you. This is the same generic, mindlessly formulaic, horribly boring music it has always been. The only reason I don’t rate it lower than 2 Stars is because there are no glaring flaws in the delivery.

Label: Green Hill Records
Song Titles: All The Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name; Jesus Shall Reign; O Sacred Head, Now Wounded; Rejoice, The Lord Is King; Lord When Thou Didst Ascend On High; I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord; Christ The Lord Is Risen Today; When I Can Read My Title Clear; Lo, What A Glorious Sight Appears; There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood; Shall Wisdom Cry Aloud; I Sing The Mighty Power Of God; Wake Every Breath; O God, Our Help In Ages Past
Rating: 2 Stars (Scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Master’s Voice tackles thirteen classic gospel songs including two in one medley for a total of twelve tracks on Vintage.

Pros: Due to the familiar content, Vintage might be considered a “table” project, but the tracks and mix are up to professional standards and thought has gone into the vocal arrangements (though some are pretty much standard). I particularly enjoyed their flat-footed, tasteful approach to “Just As I Am,” a song Master’s Voice can obviously use to close any song service with an invitation to respond to salvation. There’s an excellent mix of tempos, every singer gets a solo feature, and with only an occasional exception, it’s exactly the sort of classic male quartet music you’d expect.

Cons: Some over-singing on the opening track, “The Sweetest Song I Know,” might lead a listener to think Vintage isn’t going to be quite as vintage as the album title and cover art implies. This is just an anomaly, though; an unfortunate choice in song placement. When a similar style emerges again on “When God Dips His Love In My Heart” (track 9), it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow, because the overall style of the album by that point is well established.

Label: Sonlite Records
Song Titles: The Sweetest Song I Know; Just as I Am; You Must Make Up Your Mind; Come In The Prayer Room; I Thirst; Over The Moon; No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus; Jesus Paid It All/There Is A Fountain; When God Dips His Love In My Heart; It Is Well With My Soul; City Coming Down; In The Garden 
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Hits features ten top songs recorded in the past by The Old Paths with fresh vocals recorded by tenor singer Steve Ladd, who joined The Old Paths when they reorganized in 2017.

Pros: An album like Hits allows The Old Paths to sing their older best-known songs while offering a CD for sale that features the current line-up. This is great for new fans who might not otherwise buy the older CDs, plus, it’s unique enough that a number of long-time fans who have the original recordings should be curious enough to want to buy this CD to compare/contrast with the originals they already own (or at least check them out on a free streaming platform).

Cons: I could be wrong, of course, but I believe I’m still hearing Jeremy Peace singing on this CD. It doesn’t affect my 4 1/2 Star rating at all. Ladd is clearly singing all the tenor solos. It’s only worth mentioning for those sharp-eared listeners who may want to do some comparisons and decide whether I’m right.

Label: Sonlite Records
Song Titles: Battle Stand; I Of The Storm; Love Them To Jesus; I Want To Get Closer To My God; We Hold These Truths; We Are Those Children; God’s Great; He’s My Song; He’s The Foundation; Long Live The King
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Chapman
4 out of 5
Fallon
3 out of 5
Duncan
2 out of 5
Master's Voice
4.5 out of 5
The Old Paths
4.5 out of 5
Overall

Average rating for all May releases reviewed

3.6

Average
3.6 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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6 Comments

  1. Reply May 28, 14:33 #1 Sam

    The Gaither SCC DVD seems like a missed opportunity to hear a songwriter’s version of the Cathedrals’ song I Can See The Hand.

  2. Reply May 28, 16:12 #2 scottysearan

    I have a hard time accepting AMERICANA into Southern Gospel Music.
    I see this a slick way of Satan to destroy Southern Gospel Music.
    Call me legalistic if you shall.
    I believe that Gospel Singers and Musicians should not perform secular music.
    I do believe there are black and white areas, not gray areas that represent a style of compromise.
    I do agree Sam that it would have been a good thing to see SCC sing some of the Southern Gospel Standards.
    Yes I believe that Bill Gaither loves Southern Gospel Music and he is trying to keep it alive. Yet I believe he is adding arsenic to SGM. There was a secular song many years ago called “Murder On Music Row” that talked about what was done to country music. The same thing is happening to SGM.
    But this video shows though the intention of many Contemporary Christian artists who refuse to sing and Southern Gospel material, where that the Southern Gospel artists will sing CCM material in a Southern style.
    I am a musician and singer. I do like some of the Praise music. I do rearrange so that I can sing and play it.
    I have taken the CCM songs and rearranged them to my Southern, Country or Bluegrass style and our Praise leader would get upset because I rearranged them. Yet they cloud take a hymn or and older song and rearrange it and it would not sound even close to it.
    I love Chris Tomlin song “Amazing Grace/My Sins Are Gone” But I sing “My Sins Are Gone” and then I add “Amazing Grace.”

    • Reply June 04, 16:50 David Bruce Murray Author

      Did you catch my point that Fallon’s music wasn’t even considered “Americana” until she added three Gospel songs for the Green Hill label?

  3. Reply June 06, 23:30 #3 Aaron Swain

    I listened closely to the Old Paths release just to see if they left some of Jeremy’s vocals on the old tracks and I’m 99.9% sure that’s all Steve. Just goes to show why that was such a smart hire. We all know Steve Ladd is a great vocalist, but his tone matches their previous sound so closely that long-time listeners won’t miss the old sound but he can still make these songs his own and carry the newer stuff forward as well.

    I realize it’s probably easier to choose the songs they did given that most of them were done when they were with Crossroads the first time, but it would be neat to get a Volume 2 that goes back even further. I remember “Today” making the rounds on blog reviews back when Peace first joined, and hearing Ladd put his vocals on songs like “He Chose the Tree” would be interesting, plus hearing Daniel Ashmore on some of the bass features from back then.

  4. Reply July 28, 17:30 #4 Chris G. In Albuquerque

    I just enjoyed for the umpteenth time the CD by Masters Voice–“Vintage.”

    For me, it was pure enjoyment! These guys are good singers who obviously enjoy what they are doing. No over-orchestrated numbers, little or no electronic “massaging” of the sounds, no overly heavy orchestration drowning out the voices.

    Plus I was very taken with the variety of styles the quartet displays–numbers that are styled as C&W, Rythym and Blues, spirituals, old camp meetings, etc, Great versatility. And many of their songs actually have a melodic tune! My first time hearing the recording, I was excited about what genre of musical treat would be next. “Vintage” has become one of my most favorite recordings.

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