New Music Reviews – Mid/Late-August Releases

New Music Reviews – Mid/Late-August Releases

You’ve Arrived is the third album released by Greater Vision since Jon Epley began singing baritone in 2017. Gerald Wolfe served as executive producer for You’ve Arrived, and if you’re the sort who enjoys reading liner notes, you’ll chuckle when you see him also listed for providing “Driver Services.” This 10-song collection includes three songs written by lead singer Rodney Griffin and two more written by tenor singer Chris Allman. The remaining five songs include a Marcia Henry/Sue Smith/Kenna West co-write, a Lee Black/Scott Inman/Sue Smith co-write, a Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey co-write, and individual songs by Regina Walden and Dianne Wilkinson.

Pros: Some may believe a greater variety of songwriters is a good thing for Greater Vision, but still, it is Rodney Griffin’s “I Remember The Fish” that paints the most unique word picture on You’ve Arrived. Of course, I did enjoy “Love, Pray, Smile, Pause, Repeat” (Regina Walden), because it’s a rather happy, uplifting lyric that provides a good contrast to the weightier arrangements.

Cons: It’s nostalgia, I know, but I can’t stop myself from wondering how different/better the orchestrations might have sounded if Lari Goss were still in the arranger’s chair. The orchestrations here aren’t bad, by any stretch, but the question remains.

Producer: Trey Ivey
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: You’ve Arrived; That Blind Man Was Me; I’ve Been Washed Clean; That Temporary Place; A Song About The Blood; I Remember The Fish; Love, Pray, Smile, Pause, Repeat; Stronger Than The Storm; Sing Jesus; God Has Built A Fortress
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: August 16, 2019
Version Reviewed: CD


Pure Love is the first release by Legacy Five since the arrival of baritone Bryan Walker and tenor Lee Black. Walker has big shoes to fill replacing Scott Howard who had been with the group since their beginning in 1999. In Black, Legacy Five gains one of gospel music’s most successful songwriters. Pure Love includes a total of 11 songs.

Pros: Fans who remember Bryan Walker’s four-year stint (2010-2014) with the Perrys will be pleased to learn he can still deliver a lyric as effectively as ever. I knew going in that Lee Black is a great songwriter, but I wasn’t sure how he’d stack up as a singer. After hearing this recording, I’d rate Black as the best Legacy Five tenor since their 1999 debut with Josh Cobb. The strongest songs on Pure Love are “I Believe The Book,” “What Kind Of Man,” and “Love, Pure Love” in that order. The first two are message-driven, well-written, and memorable performances. “Love, Pure Love” is the best of several infectious, fun songs.

Cons: Bass singer Matt Fouch is mixed too soft when he’s singing harmony. A few times, I forgot I was listening to a quartet.

Producer: Wayne Haun
Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: What A Day; What Kind Of Man; That’s What Makes Believers Believe; Love, Pure Love; I Believe The Book; The Greatest Wonder; Beggin’ For Change; Love Always Finds A Way; Middle Man; Not Just Another Day; Only Passing Through
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: August 23, 2019
Version Reviewed: CD


You Are Loved is the result of Jeff & Sheri Easter’s return to the recording studio after a four-year hiatus.

Pros: Jeff & Sheri continue to deliver the country flavor we’ve been used to hearing from them since the mid-1990s. A few tracks incorporate a banjo to nod to their bluegrass roots, but overall, their sound is set firmly in the pop/country camp. A spontaneous “woo” at the beginning of “You Are Loved” and another at the end of “Send It On Down The Nile” give this studio recording a sense of what you might experience at a Jeff & Sheri Easter concert.

Cons: Some lyrics are predictable, and sadly, I didn’t hear any phrases that immediately captured my imagination like “sittin’ on top of the world with my feet hanging off” (from their 2012 release Eyes Wide Open).

Label: Gaither Music Group
Song Titles: You Are Loved; People Like Me; Send It On Down The Nile; Learning To Dance In The Rain; Sweet Hellos; The Life I’m Living; Never Been Too Sad To Sing; Heaven’s Forever; Today Is A Good Day; The Road To Everywhere
Rating: 4 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


Cultures clash when Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver take their version of bluegrass across the sea to the Czech Republic for Live In Prague. The songs on this recording are mostly secular with only two overtly gospel lyrics: “I’m Going To Heaven” and “On The Sea Of Life.” A couple of instrumentals are also included.

Pros: Live In Prague sounds like a genuine live recording. There are applause responses mid-song, spoken encouragements to vocals from band members, and enthusiastic whoops from the audience in response to instrument solos. (Of course, some extra applause may have been added. I’m not saying it’s a strict documentary of the performance as it actually happened.) Spoken introductions to songs are also included. If the reaction to the a cappella gospel song “I’m Going To Heaven” is anywhere close to accurate, it certainly translated well to the predominantly non-English speaking population.

Cons: Placing spoken introductions to songs at the end of the previous track rather than the beginning of track being introduced remains one of my pet peeves. It’s particularly short-sighted when the label knows they plan to distribute the recording to streaming services that occasionally interrupt the album between tracks to play an advertisement. The solution is so simple, but they continue to insert song breaks like they did 40 years ago.

Label: Billy Blue Records
Song Titles: Driving It Home; Back In My Baby’s Arms Again; Jealous; Living Like There’s No Tomorrow; I’ll Be True While You’re Gone; Shenandoah Breakdown; I’m Going To Heaven; On The Sea Of Life; Little Girl; Leaving On Her Mind; Out In The Cold World; She’s Walking Through My Memory; Clinch Mountain Backstep; Julie Ann Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.


The Chuck Wagon Gang pays tribute to the Carter Family with No Depression In Heaven. To clarify, the Carter Family referenced in the album title is not the family of Carters who were original members of the Chuck Wagon Gang. The title refers to the family group that originally consisted of AP Carter, his wife Sara, and Sara’s sister Maybelle Carter (she was married AP Carter’s cousin).

Pros: The simple vocal delivery and uncomplicated arrangements Chuck Wagon Gang fans expect continues on No Depression In Heaven. The cover photo featuring the group posed at the Carter Fold is a nice touch. It was interesting hearing a few songs that were unfamiliar to me. Being a music theory nerd, I perked up when I heard a chord substitution on the chorus of “The Old Gospel Ship.”

Cons: The cons I noticed are less about what is here and more about what ISN’T. The liner notes mention research that was conducted into the histories of these songs, but none of that information (aside from the usual songwriter/publisher) appears in the liner notes! An autoharp, so much a part of the traditional Carter Family sound, never appears in the mix. I was also somewhat surprised when I realized two of the Carter Family’s most popular gospel songs, “Keep On The Sunny Side” and “Can The Circle Be Unbroken?” aren’t included.

Producers: Jeff Collins/David Johnson
Label: Mountain Home Records
Song Titles: When Our Lord Shall Come Again; Am I A Soldier Of The Cross; The Meeting In The Air; The Heart That Was Broken For Me; Honey In The Rock; There’s No Depression In Heaven; The Old Gospel Ship; On The Rock Where Moses Stood; Anchored In Love Divine; There’s A Hill Lone And Gray; Somebody’s Boy; The Bible In The Cabin
Rating: 3 Stars (scale of 1-5 Stars)
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music

Click HERE to listen to the entire album on YouTube Music.

Greater Vision
4 out of 5
Legacy Five
4.5 out of 5
Jeff & Sheri Easter
3.5 out of 5
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
3.5 out of 5
Chuck Wagon Gang
3 out of 5
Overall

Average of all albums reviewed

3.7

Average
3.7 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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