New Music Reviews: Early October 2020 Releases

New Music Reviews: Early October 2020 Releases

Click HERE to listen all of these albums on YouTube Music.

On his website, Michael W. Smith writes, “My prayer is that this work helps you find some moments of STILLNESS, whether in the meditations and scriptures that I read in the first five tracks or in the moments of prayer that you have over the last five.

Still, Vol. 1 is a unique album intended for believers to use during their private devotion times. The collection is available on CD, but to get the full effect, I recommend the visual album on YouTube.

Still is instrumental with Smith speaking scripture passages on the first five tracks. The remaining five tracks repeat the instrumental music and visual images without the spoken scriptures so the listener can spend that time in prayer.

Tracks range in length from around 3 minutes to 8 minutes. The total playing time is just under an hour. The music is simple with a few dramatic moments and is perfect to spark private devotion as Smith intended. As Smith calmly reads passages from The Holy Bible on the first five tracks, the book and verse scripture references appear in the corner of the screen.

The visuals feature nature scenes. While some scenes are repetitive, the simple visuals are conducive to prayer and praise. These videos would also be ideal for use in corporate worship settings (assuming proper permission can be secured).

Label: Rocketown Records
Song Titles: Steadfast (Pt. 1); Broken (Pt. 2); Hope (Pt. 3); Shelter (Pt. 4); Blessing (Pt. 5); Steadfast (Pt. 1) – Instrumental; Broken (Pt. 2) – Instrumental; Hope (Pt. 3) – Instrumental; Shelter (Pt. 4) – Instrumental; Blessing (Pt. 5) – Instrumental
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Rating: 5 Stars


The history of The Nelons picked up where the history of The LeFevres left off in 1977. Rex Nelon was already managing The LeFevres by that point, so when Eva Mae LeFevre decided to retire, Rex observed, “We have no LeFevres left.” The group was initially billed as The Rex Nelon Singers, then the name was shortened to The Nelons.

The 2020 lineup of The Nelons includes Kelly Nelon Clark, her husband Jason Clark, and daughters Amber Kistler, and Autumn Clark. Kelly was a member of The LeFevres in 1977 when the name change occurred and has been the consistent face in the group for 33 years aside from a brief solo career in the early 1990s. Jason joined in 1995 initially as a musician before transitioning to a singing role. Amber became the group’s soprano in 2002. Peace At Last is the group’s fifth full-length release since Autumn became a full-time singer with The Nelons in 2014.

“Children Sing” is a soulful country track with some cool pitch-bending vocals, while “Jordan” has a fun, driving rhythm. The title track “Peace At Last” slows the pace for a timely, heartfelt lyric. The song titled “Pilgrim” featuring Jason is the catchy old standard better known as “I Am A Pilgrim.” The accordion solo is a nice touch.

“Still Free” appears to be a reflective track initially, but then a suspenseful rhythm set over minor chords kicks in and builds to a driving, epic chorus. “Wish We All Could Remember” features Kelly and is a comfortably paced call to action that sounds a LOT like Amy Grant in vocal tone, style, and lyric content. The title of “Two Are Better Than One” aptly describes what the lyric is all about assuming you’re familiar with the scripture in Ecclesiastes 4, but you might be surprised by the slow pace and almost mournful vocal delivery. Quiet energy gradually becomes more insistent through the first two verses of “The Devil Taught Me To Pray.” There’s a little surprise at the end of the song that will take you back to your childhood.

You’re probably already familiar with the mid-tempo “If God Pulled Back The Curtain” which has been available as a concept video on YouTube since May. “Patience Of Job” is another fun, light-hearted selection. The album concludes with the thought-provoking “Grace Ain’t Fair,” the heartfelt “I Just Wanted You To Know,” and “Love All Day Long” which nods back to the style of the opening track to give Peace At Last a stylistic bookend.

Peace At Last is full-length and then some with a total of 13 tracks. Of course, I enjoyed some tracks more than others, but none of the songs are so weak that I’d say the overall collection would be improved by removing one. There’s plenty of variety, but not so much that songs feel out of character in the overall style of the album.

In other words, The Nelons have hit a real home run with Peace At Last. It gets five out of five stars from me!

Label: Daywind Records
Song Titles: Children Sing; Jordan; Peace At Last; Pilgrim; Still Free; Wish We All Could Remember; Two Are Better Than One; The Devil Taught Me To Pray; If God Pulled Back The Curtain; Patience Of Job; Grace Ain’t Fair; I Just Wanted To Know You; Love All Day Long
Release Date: October 2, 2020
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Rating: 5 Stars


The Gaither Vocal Band released a DVD/CD combo in 2019 titled Reunion Live recorded at a multi-day event in Greenville, SC that featured all of the current and most of the past GVB members (reviewed HERE). Reunited Live is another DVD/CD combo offering a second round of songs from that same event. All the audio and portions of the video are also available on YouTube Music.

Most of the pros and cons I mentioned in my review of Reunion Live last year also apply here. As usual, Gaither gives you your money’s worth with a total of 18 songs. Hearing Bill Gaither and others on the platform encouraging the featured singers gives this recording an authentic quality.

I grumbled before about the lack of songs that were added to the GVB’s repertoire after the 5-man, all-star lineup was assembled in 2009. That still applies. You won’t hear “Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored,” “Rasslin’ Jacob,” or “I Don’t Want To Get Adjusted.” (Bill Gaither does quote a line from “Greatly Blessed” after “What A Day That Will Be,” but the tease never pays off.) You also won’t hear the current lineup singing songs like “Hallelujah Band,” “Good Things Just Take Time,” or “Man Of Sorrows.”

A few of the notable moments include Michael English’s unique renderings of “Lord Feed Your Children” and “Daystar” and Guy Penrod’s equally compelling “Why Me Lord.” Wes Hampton is outstanding on the last section of “Journey To The Sky.” “Cast Your Bread Upon The Water” shows the tenures of both Marshall Hall and Buddy Mullins were way too brief as are their feature moments on this release.

A few of the former GVB members have lost a step vocally from their heyday which is entirely understandable. Vocal range and lung capacity do tend to diminish over a 20-30 year period. The only segment that fell completely flat for me was the “Jesus On The Mainline” comedy routine that premiered in 1993 on the Live At Praise Gathering video.

At the end of the day, though, the Gaither organization continues to set the standard for both audio and video production quality. The accompaniment is also as solid as ever with long-time Gaither musicians like Kevin Williams and Matthew Holt on stage.

Label: Gaither Music Group
Song Titles: Heartbreak Ridge And New Hope Road; Yes I Know; Can’t Stop Talking About Him; Lord Feed Your Children; Journey To The Sky; Why Me; Mary Did You Know; Bread Upon The Water; Holy Is The Lord/What A Day That Will Be; Jesus On The Mainline; I Then Shall Live; The Star-Spangled Banner; Daystar Shine Down On Me; Go Tell It On The Mountain; Little Is Much When God Is In It; Hide Thou Me; The King Is Coming
Release Date: October 2, 2020
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 Stars


A NUTSHELL REVIEW

Josh, Randa, Alex, Hutch, and Heather Rose Jordan are the members of Jordan Family Band. Little More Love mostly consists of modern country/pop songs including the opening track and “Pray Hard,” but there are also some traditional country songs like “He Don’t Remember Nothing” and the fun “I Can Hardly Wait,” both featuring Josh. The strongest songs by Jordan Family Band are tracks that primarily feature Randa like the power anthem “Hope For The World” and the exciting “Can’t Lose For Winning” (a new version of a song that appeared on their first album Better Days).

Since 2017 when I reviewed their CD Reach, Jordan Family Band’s vocals have improved noticeably, though I did hear some distracting pitch correction in a few spots. The addition of Heather Rose (Hutch’s wife) has made them stronger vocally. The quality of the material on Little More Love sets Jordan Family Band up to continue gaining traction and expanding their fanbase.

Song Titles: A Little More Love; Pray Hard; He Don’t Remember Nothing; Hope For The World; It Finds You; Don’t Give In; Unspoken; I Can Hardly Wait; Only Growing; Can’t Lose For Winning; Redneck Redemption; I Wanna Go
Release Date: October 9, 2020
Version Reviewed: YouTube Music
Rating: 4 Stars

The Nelons
5 out of 5
Gaither Vocal Band
4 out of 5
Jordan Family Band
4 out of 5
Michael W. Smith
5 out of 5
Overall

Average of all four albums reviewed:

4.5

Good
4.5 out of 5

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /nfs/c10/h06/mnt/141983/domains/blog.musicscribe.com/html/wp-content/themes/multimag-theme/includes/single/post-tags-categories.php on line 7
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

We love comments
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment on this article!


Warning: Illegal string offset 'rules' in /nfs/c10/h06/mnt/141983/domains/blog.musicscribe.com/html/wp-content/themes/multimag-theme/functions/filters.php on line 200

Warning: Illegal string offset 'rules' in /nfs/c10/h06/mnt/141983/domains/blog.musicscribe.com/html/wp-content/themes/multimag-theme/functions/filters.php on line 207

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.