NEW MUSIC REVIEWS – Late MAY 2019

NEW MUSIC REVIEWS – Late MAY 2019


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


Almost two years after his performance of an original song at the National Quartet Convention caught the attention of the industry, Tim Menzies has found a home at New Day Records. If you’re not familiar with Menzies, imagine how Randy Travis might sound if he dialed the twang in his tone down just a small a notch. His Name Is Jesus clocks in at 56 minutes with a total of 14 tracks, 11 of which were co-written by Menzies.

Pros: Southern Gospel has some fantastic songwriters and great singers, but not a lot of storytelling singer/songwriters. Tim Menzies is an accomplished storytelling songwriter in a field where there aren’t many with the added benefit of sounding like a storyteller in his delivery. Even when Menzies covers a familiar hymn like “Little Is Much,” it seems he’s just explaining a life lesson in a conversational tone.

“Hanging Out With Old Folks” is my favorite track; lines like “Good Lord willing, someday down the road, we’ll all be old folks” strike just the right chord. I’m also impressed by the CD packaging. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an insert that needed a staple!

Cons: “Nothing But The Blood” would be better as a standalone track. The way it’s paired with “There’s Something About That Name” here is rather weird. There’s no continuity of key or tempo, plus the track itself runs nearly eight minutes.

Producer: Ben Isaacs
Label: New Day Records
Song Titles: His Name Is Jesus; That Little Crowded Room; Don’t Wait; There’s Something About That Name/Nothing But The Blood; Thirty Year Suicide; Hanging Out With Old Folks; He Didn’t Come That Night; Six Feet; I Know That Was You; I Hope You See Jesus; Thank God For Cowboys; Kentucky Coal; Walking In Jerusalem; Little Is Much
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Version Reviewed: CD


In the fall of 2018, The McKameys announced they would retire from full-time touring at the end of November 2019. If they had decided to simply reprise their numerous hits from the past without ever going back to the studio, no one would have minded, but The McKameys have created one more full-length recording titled The Crown.

Pros: The Crown features the same type of songs The McKameys are known for delivering. “You Must Be Born Again” and “The Holy Spirit Prayed” are precisely the sort of songs Peg McKamey’s fans always want to hear her sing. I particularly enjoyed the four-part harmony sections of the old hymn, “Cleanse Me.” Sheryl Farris wrote four songs for The Crown (“We All Need A Savior,” “Don’t Forget,” “The Crown,” and “From Dust To Glory”). I hope she will continue writing songs for other groups after the McKameys retire from traveling.

Cons: Sure, I typed “Cons:” and applied bold face just as I did for each of the other albums I’m reviewing today, but I’m not even going to go there regarding what I assume is the final album by The McKameys.

Label: Horizon Records
Producer: Roger Fortner & Jeff Collins
Song Titles: We All Need A Savior; You Must Be Born Again; Cleanse Me; Go Back And Pray; The Holy Spirit Prayed; Heavy; Don’t Forget; The Crown; God Is Good; From Dust To Glory
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 31, 2019
Version Reviewed: CD


Tenor singer Jimmy Fortune launched a solo career after the retirement of the Statler Brothers in 2002. His latest release, God & Country, includes mostly familiar gospel songs with an occasional Americana title added to the mix.

Pros: The 64-year-old Fortune still sings with a confident tone, but doesn’t feel like he has to show off the very top of his vocal range on every song. “It Is No Secret” is preceded by a touching spoken introduction.

Cons: The gospel song selection is rather predicable.

Label: Gaither Music Group
Song Titles: Battle Hymn Of The Republic/This Land Is Your Land; The Old Rugged Cross; Battle Of New Orleans; In The Garden; Meet Me At Arlington; Because He Lives; I Love You More; More Than A Name On A Wall (feat. the Isaacs); Softly And Tenderly; In God We Trust; God Bless America/America The Beautiful (feat. Sonya Isaacs Yeary); It Is Well With My Soul; It Is No Secret (Intro); It Is No Secret
Rating: 4 Stars (1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 24, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Chris Rice may not be a familiar name in Southern Gospel circles, but he’s often made stylistically compatible music over his 23-year career since signing with Rocketown Records in 1996. Untitled Hymn: A Collection Of Hymns is Rice’s latest release after a long dry spell reaching back to 2007. It’s good to see him recording again. Eleven of the twelve hymns are well-known, including Rice’s original “Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)”. The twelfth and final track (“Too Much I Love”) is new.

Pros: Rice performs familiar hymns with an authentic sincerity; his vocal delivery is simple as are his choices for instruments, allowing the timeless lyrics to speak. Sometimes he adds an extra line like, “And if I had a thousand tongues, still I could never sing enough” on “Oh For A Thousand Tongues.” Sometimes he creates a new melody line (“When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”). Normally, I wouldn’t care for an entire album featuring slow-paced hymns, but there’s an urgency in Rice’s vocal tone that compels me to keep listening.

Cons: This isn’t really a “con,” but the title “Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)” has always struck me as comical and somewhat pretentious. Either it has a title or it doesn’t!

Label: Fair Trade Services
Song Titles: What A Friend We Have In Jesus; Amazing Grace; Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus); O For A Thousand Tongues; When I Survey The Wondrous Cross; This Is My Father’s World; There Is A Fountain; Leaning On The Everlasting Arms; Hallelujah, What A Savior; Were You There; Fairest Lord Jesus; Too Much I Love
Rating: 5 Stars (1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Former Crabb Family/Crabb Revival member and current Gaither Vocal Band lead singer Adam Crabb has released a new solo CD titled Clean, a follow-up to 2013’s Surrender. The title track, “Clean,” is a cover of Natalie Grant’s 2015 hit.

Pros: Adam Crabb’s trademark tone is neck vein raising, but on Clean, most of the arrangements are slow-builds that first draw us in (“Where I Belong,” “Devil’s Hand,” “There Is A Healer,” “Champion”) before pounding the message home. “Well Done My Child” (Bryan Faust) is a fun diversion, lest we get too bogged down in the more serious material. This recording should nicely balance Crabb’s work with the Gaither Vocal Band.

Cons: “The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference” is oddly only listed with a partial title on Clean. I like Crabb’s version of the song fine, but is there a clause in the contract of Gaither Vocal Band members that requires them to include at least one Gaither-written song on their solo releases?

Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: Where I Belong; Higher; Devil’s Hand; There Is A Healer; Champion; Clean; Love Will Take You Places; Well Done My Child; Cross Made The Difference; Voices; War!
Rating: 4 Stars (1-5 Stars)
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.

Menzies
4.5 out of 5
McKameys
3.5 out of 5
Fortune
4 out of 5
Rice
5 out of 5
Crabb
4 out of 5
Overall

Average rating for all late May 2019 releases

4.2

Good
4.2 out of 5

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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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4 Comments

  1. Reply June 06, 16:35 #1 Daniel J. Mount

    Bravo on leaving out cons on the McKameys.

    The idea of cons is, I think, to point out things an artist can do better next time. Sadly for us (though well deserved for them), the McKameys are out of next times. So nice move. :)

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  2. Reply June 08, 21:40 #2 Brad

    I too hope Sheryl Farris continues to write after the McKameys retirement. She has written many great songs, but to my knowledge no one else has every recorded one of her songs. I could see groups like the Whisnants reaping the benefits of some of her songs.

    • Reply June 08, 22:00 David Bruce Murray Author

      A few of her songs have been recorded by other groups, but not as many as you’d think, given the quality of her writing.

      The Kingsmen recorded “Getting Used To The Dark” before the McKameys did. (At least, I think it’s the same song. I don’t have the Kingsmen recording to compare.) It was later a #1 song for the McKameys.

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