New Music Reviews: Early May 2020 Releases

New Music Reviews: Early May 2020 Releases

Click HERE to hear these and other May 2020 releases on YouTube Music.


Canton Junction’s first release under the Gaither Gospel Series banner is also their first recording to feature baritone and pianist Gordon Mote who joined the group three years ago. Other members include 5-year veteran lead singer Casey Rivers and original members Tim Duncan (bass) and Matt Hagee (tenor).

Great Is Thy Faithfulness Live is available in CD, DVD, and digital versions. This review will focus on the version released digitally on YouTube Music. There are 17 tracks, 11 of which are song tracks. The other tracks are spoken song and group member introductions. Don’t let the listing of 13 songs at gaither.com fool you. The chorus of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” appears at the end of “I’d Rather Have Jesus” with no break. “Heaven’s Jubilee” and “I’ll Fly Away” are similarly part of a medley arrangement.

Aside from “Old Pine Box,” all the songs are well-known standards. “Old Pine Box” features Gordon Mote on vocals and includes a blistering piano solo. Mote is also featured on the classic “Jesus Will Outshine Them All.”

Throughout this recording, you can hear the interactions between the singers as they cheer each other on. Several songs have spoken introductions as I mentioned above. Hagee introduces the band members while they create a fun (untitled) groove. It’s an all-star cast: Steve Brewster (drums), Duncan Mullins (bass guitar), Garry Jones (keyboards), Jeff Key (electric guitar), Joel Key (acoustic guitar), and Mikey Johnson (pedal steel).

Sadly, this super-talented band is largely sidelined on several tracks that lean heavily on orchestrations. This diminishes the “live” feel that is conveyed so well in other segments of the album. It’s also too bad only one fresh song was introduced on this recording. Why include a new song at all if the rest of the album is going to entirely consist of classics?

Great Is Thy Faithfulness Live is otherwise a solid quartet recording.

Label: Gaither Gospel Series
Song Titles: We’ll Soon Be Done With Trouble And Trials; Up Above My Head (I Hear Music In The Air); Old Pine Box; Jesus Will Outshine Them All; What A Meeting In The Air; I Must Tell Jesus; I’m Free; I’d Rather Have Jesus/Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Heaven’s Jubilee/I’ll Fly Away; Does Jesus Care; How Great Thou Art
Rating: 4 Stars
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Release Date:
May 1, 2020


Blessed: Songs Of Inspiration by Jim Brickman is a collection of 16 piano instrumental tracks. The content consists mostly of well-known hymns with a few other titles like the classical aria “Marble Halls” added for good measure.

Brickman’s arrangements are generally of a meditative character, but not to the point of being boring. He shifts melody lines and rhythms around, avoiding the trap of being predictable like so many recordings in the instrumental piano genre.

Brickman sings on “Believe.” This is a different song that the instrumental track recorded on his CD by the same title. He also sings on “Lullaby Prayer.” “Hopeful” features a nice viola solo. With 16 tracks total on Blessed, the change of pace was welcome. For the sake of variety, it would have been better if these three tracks had been spaced out across the album rather than all near the end.

Label: Green Hill
Song Titles: How Great Thou Art; Were You There; Abide With Me; Come You Thankful People; All Creatures Of Our God And King; Sleepers Awake; Marble Halls; Veni Veni Emmanuel; Now Thank We All Our God; Leaning On The Everlasting Arms; How Can I Keep From Singing; Go Tell It On The Mountain; Believe; Lullaby Prayer; Blessings Medley; Hopeful.
Rating: 4 Stars
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Release Date: May 1, 2020


The Kramers consist of Scott and Rachel Kramer, their daughter Maria, and their son-in-law Ben Wolfe. The Hope Of All Tomorrows includes nine songs.

Not having a copy of the credits, The songwriting is particularly strong. “Water Walker” is the first song released to radio and a good choice, but I think “Priceless Praise” is possibly even better. “All The Way To The Gates” is the only song that features a male singer on a solo, which is too bad, because one or two more would have added some variety to this CD. (It sounds like a Rodney Griffin song to my ear. I’m sure someone will correct me if I guessed wrong.)

My favorite song on this album is “It’s A Good Life.” The production style applied to this track perfectly suits the pleasant and light vocal style of The Kramers. “Pray ‘Til Something Happens In Me” would be more effective with a more forceful, soulful vocalist. “Be Christ,” the title track, and “Great Beyond Measure” are well-written and capably delivered ballads, but I wish they weren’t clumped together at the end of the CD.

Song pacing and failing to feature the men in the group aside, The Hope Of All Tomorrows is very good in the areas that count the most. I wish had access to the credits so I could acknowledge the songwriters by name. The lyrics and arrangements are top-shelf, and so is the overall production quality.

Label: Stow Town Records
Song Titles: Greater God; Water Walker; All The Way To The Gates; Priceless Praise; It’s A Good Life; Pray ‘Til Something Happens In Me; Be Christ; The Hope Of All Tomorrows; Great Beyond Measure
Rating: 4 Stars
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Release Date: May 8, 2020

Canton Junction
4 out of 5
Jim Brickman
4 out of 5
The Kramers
4 out of 5
Overall

Average rating of all three albums reviewed:

4

Good
4 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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2 Comments

  1. Reply May 11, 11:15 #1 James Hales

    David, my understanding of the Canton Junction recording is it was somewhat of a tribute to John Hagee and he had a hand in picking some of the songs. That being said, indicating that in the title may have been helpful…ie-tribute/legacy, etc.

    • Reply May 11, 15:11 David Bruce Murray Author

      That’s the downside of reviewing music from a YouTube stream. I don’t see the liner notes where that might be explained.

      That’s record label’s choice.

      I can say it is mentioned during a couple of the song introductions that the concert event is a tribute to John Hagee. I can’t recall for certain if they said he chose the songs, though. I expect the DVD version has many more details in the interviews.

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